In 2016 a bold vision and collaborative process began in an effort to bring the Circle Series: Circle of Support & Arts to the community of Red Deer, Alberta. It would support restorative practices, connection and arts for social change. The initiative was successfully launched earlier this year through dynamic partnerships and community collaborators. It was built on an already established and successful concept related to building an effective and safe community of support for persons with complex needs through the Circle of Support.
This unique series expands its scope to include a broader Circle methodology that promotes an opportunity to bring together people from a variety of complex backgrounds to share their experience, insight and to nurture the development of organic, safe and healthy relationships. Based on leading research, Circle Series participants experience a unique and powerful fusion of peacemaking circles and arts that offer participants the opportunity to connect and create community, to be empowered to develop social awareness and practice emotional and social literacy creating lifelong transformation and social change.
Raymond, a Circle Series Participant continues to attend regularly and shares his experience along with some of his art.
“My first experience with Circle came at a much needed time in my life; it was filled with chaos and new challenges, that at the time, I was unable to face alone. Circle became a place for me to express my thoughts and address some of my issues without judgement and in safety. The Circle changed my life in ways I had not expected, but subtle. And after it was completed I wanted more; and hoped it would return again. However, it did not and I felt lost again.
Since then, the new Circle Series established by Steve Woolrich, the John Howard Society, and the FASD Network, has given back that security and has become a regular part of my day to day routine. This series has a new art component, which has helped me to revisit some of my old skills as an artist, and has helped to quiet the noise of regular life. I have reconnected with myself and have learned a great deal about my community; not to mention the new relationships I have established. Circle is a place of healing and self awareness. I have noticed that even the facilitators and other professionals have found a place in our Circle. I have benefited far more than I would have thought, and if given the chance, I would bring it to as many communities as I could. It’s not just for messed up lives … it’s for living.”