SHINE … A New Prevention Program Aimed At Preventing Youth From Running Away and Falling Victim to Sexual Exploitation!

On Valentine’s Day, the Missing Children’s Network unveiled, SHINE (Self-esteem, Healthy relationships, Independence, No means No, Empowerment), a new interactive prevention program tailored for students in Grades 5 & 6, and Secondary 1. These workshops will be offered in both English and French to schools throughout the province of Quebec and the contents will be customized to reflect the individual needs of the Native communities and at-risk youth.

SHINE is designed to help students build a positive self-image, recognize the components of healthy and egalitarian relationships, learn to set boundaries, thus protecting them from abuse, aggression and exploitation. Seminars will also be presented that will allow parents, legal guardians and educators to gain deeper insight on issues facing teens today and will provide them with tools and resources to prevent their children from falling victim to sexual exploitation. An online directory of services and resources for youth victims of sexual exploitation will soon be available, as well as a turnkey tool kit for educators.

“Every year in Quebec, on average, 5,000 cases of runaway youth are reported to law enforcement. Our experience has shown that one in every three runaways fall victim to sexual exploitation. This province-wide program was designed to protect youth and help them make safer choices. We are immensely grateful to our partners that include law enforcement, child welfare agencies and youth-serving organizations who joined forces and shared their expertise in the development of SHINE. As well, we wish to sincerely thank our generous financial partners who are funding this important initiative”, declared Pina Arcamone, Director General of the Missing Children’s Network.

During the press conference that was held at Collège Notre Dame, Sue Montgomery, Mayor of the borough of Côte-des-Neiges/Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, reiterated the importance of sensitizing youth about the hidden dangers of running away and their right to say NO to anyone and in any situation that leaves them feeling scared, threatened or uncomfortable.
Eric Hauptman, a father whose teenage daughter ran away in 2016, delivered a poignant message of hope and reminded parents to never give up on their children. “Keep a solid link with your children; reassure them of your unconditional love and that you will always be there to listen to them, no matter what they are living. When the foundation is solid, everything is possible!”

The Missing Children’s Network concluded the event by proudly introducing their dynamic Youth Ambassador, Ludivine Reding, a young and talented actress who is currently starring in the lead role of the hit television series Fugueuse. “I am so excited to be associated with this wonderful organization!” exclaimed Ludivine Reding, “My goal is to sensitize youth about the reality of running away and prevent them from falling victim to acts of aggression or exploitation.”

The creation and implementation of SHINE was made possible thanks to a substantial grant by an anonymous donor, as well as a generous contribution by the Air Canada Foundation. This initiative will allow the Missing Children’s Network to increase the personal safety of more than 40,000 youths over the next three years.

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Heartfelt words of gratitude

An American woman wrote to us the morning of March 29th to thank us for the help that we provided her with 19 years-ago when she was reunited with her son. Her kind words were for our Senior Case Manager, Patrick Bergeron:

“Hi Patrick,

It was wonderful speaking with you today.  When I think of you, I am filled with gratitude that you were there for me and Sam when we needed you most.  Thank you for what you did for us and thank you for everything you do for missing children and their families.  You are a giant among men.”

This kind of testimony motivates our team to continue its quest to reunite families with their children!

Abby

Mother of Sam, missing child recovered on March 29, 1998

Since I have been donating to your organization, I have been very lucky not to have lost any of my children and I now have 4 grandchildren!  I will always continue to support this cause that is very dear to me. Losing a child for a mere 20 seconds is such a dreadful feeling, and I could never ever imagine feeling like this until my child was returned home.  I wish that so many other parents could share the same blessing I have had. My heart goes out to everyone who has a missing child. Keep up the fantastic work Pina , please. You and your team are amazing!!

Sandra Bolduc

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