Since April 2011, Aime Hutton has been working with Vecova in the services department as a Community Resource Practitioner. We were lucky enough to have her sit down with us and tell us about her passions for freedom and empowerment of women.
As well as working with persons with disabilites at Vecova, you are an advocate for equality for women. What are some of the activities you are involved in?
A.H.: I am an advocate yes for women and girls world wide. I am the Canadian Ambassador for the Freedom and Empowerment Campaign. This campaign is for anyone who’s experienced domestic violence/dating abuse. I am also the Teen Canadian Ambassador for the same campaign. This is helping teens who have experienced dating violence. There is an education and awareness piece for both the full campaign and the teen campaign. The facts state that 1 in 3 women/girls and 1 in 6 boys/men will experience violence in their life time. According to the Canadian’s Women Foundation: Younger women were most at risk of violent victimization, according to both police-reported and self-reported victimization data. The police-reported rate of violent crime against women aged 15 to 24 was 42% higher than the rate for women aged 25 to 34, and nearly double the rate for women aged 35 to 44. As well as 66% of all female victims of sexual assault are under the age of twenty-four (http://www.canadianwomen.org/facts-about-Violence)
The other passion I have is empowerment for women and girls. One program I have is inspiring radiant play and confidence through dance/moment for women. Getting out of their heads and into their body where their true power lies. And then by working with me, young girls break free from their shells to live with confidence and courage. I have a program called Wonder Girls Camp, doing hands on activities such as picture journaling, drawing murals, vision boards, and some movement/dance.
Why is this important work?
A.H.: Educating our future leaders about having healthy relationships, and safe relationships is of utmost importance in my view. I want no girl to experience what I did for six years in elementary school. I know first hand what it feels like to be bullied and severely teased, to have maybe 1 friend. I am also a survivor of dating violence and stalking while attending university full time. I know how many girls may be feeling stupid, ugly, a loser, or even having thoughts of suicide. Self esteem and confidence is important for our young girls.
You have developed a 12 month program for women, why is it important for women to have access to this kind of programming to improve their quality of life?
A.H.: Yes, the program I’ve developed helps women get in touch with their personal power, which lies in her body and heart, not her head. The women I work with go into their heart and feel, express, and re-develop their confidence so they can be fully present in the world and improve their quality of life. The women I work with achieve amazing results. Here’s what one of my clients has said: “Aime some amazing things are starting to happen … because I keep moving limiting beliefs are being challenged daily. I am starting to feel different about my body. I think that listening to myself talk to you about how I have felt has been a big key to change. I’ve been neglecting my body for so long, working with Aime has been amazing, tapping into and connecting my heart, body, and mind together as one has been healing. I haven’t been living my life in my body for a long time, I’ve only been in my head. Aime is helping me to feel my body again, and love who I am! Women who are wanting help with connecting with their Authentic Body should contact Aime now! Thank you Aime for everything!”
You are running a bullying camp for young girls and you use interactive, hands on, play-based activities, what success have you seen with using this approach to support girls in overcoming bullying?
A.H.: Yes, the activities that the girls and I experience have the girls realizing that they are important in their world. Overcoming bullying will not happen over night, yet to start with empowerment activities for all girls is one of the keys, to have them liking themselves, and feeling confident.
I’ve worked with the Calgary Girls Schools, the young girl in the program I had on week one came in shy, nervous, and not sure of herself. We were drawing about what is a feeling we have in our hearts. She drew 3 stick figures. One of the stick figures was standing on her own away from the other two stick figures. The girl in the program put down the crayon and started to cry. I was able to get her sharing what was going on in the picture she drew. It broke my heart when she said that the one standing on her own was her, and she wasn’t sure if she was still friends with the other two stick figures in the drawing. What ever I said to her worked because on week 3 of 9 her Dad came to pick her up after program was done. He asked me “What have you done to our daughter, she’s different? She’s coming out of her shell more, and engaging/talking with us as a family.”
As well as I run the program virtually as well. I gift 3 spots to girls in Kenya. When I contacted the one helping distribute the program in Kenya he said that his girls are being brave, speaking up on their village council. Which is something he said that the girls have never done before. The girls are feeling confident in their own skin, and developing self esteem at a rapid pace.
How do you use the knowledge you have gained from using hands-on activities to empower women and girls in how you support persons with disabilities?
A.H.: Empowerment is important to everyone who is a part of the world. Helping our clients living with disabilities realize that they do matter in the world is equally important. A couple of the clients and I have created vision boards, or wish boards of things they want to have or be. Coming soon, I’ll be also be presenting a talk to our clients about having safe relationships. What are the three things to have when in a relationship with someone? Breaking it down into 3 simple steps: using our words, listening to friends, and being kind to others.
Do you see the work you do in fighting for women’s rights benefiting the disabilities sector?
A.H.: Violence doesn’t discriminate in any way. It happens to women and men, of all ages, colours and creeds. Violence also happens to any ability, financial status, and country. It is stated that 1 Billion women around the world have experienced violence. People living with disabilities are not exempt from experiencing violence. A lot of the time people with disabilities will be the target of violence because sometimes they aren’t able to communicate what has happened to them. So yes, the work I do in fighting for women’s rights and empowerment can and will benefit people living with disabilities.