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As another school year comes to an end, The Circle Salt Spring Education Society would like to thank all of its members, donors, and funders for their unwavering support over the last year.

Everybody has felt the highs and lows of this past year as we all navigated the challenges of the pandemic. The Circle was fortunate to discover the silver linings of COVID-19 and be able to continue providing its social-emotional programs to youth in the community. The organization adapted its traditional delivery of programming to an innovative online platform that, for many teachers, proved to be more powerful. Says one teacher, “I love the interactive aspect of the video delivery—I didn’t expect it to be so engaging for my students. Another perk is the flexibility of timing—I could fit the program anywhere into my weekly schedule. It was fun and super relevant.”

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You may have noticed that The Circle rebranded a year ago. When the program facilitators noticed that the challenges students were facing had changed in the 24 years since SWOVA—Saltspring Women Opposed to Violence and Abuse—began, they suggested that the organization should change its name. Its new name—The Circle—reflects a key feature of the organization’s long-time work. When facilitators meet with students, they gather in a circle! In a circle, everyone is equal, able to look one another in the eyes and listen fully.

The rebranding gave the organization the exciting opportunity to renew its commitment and refresh its approach to the organization’s original vision: inclusive and gender-equitable communities living violence-free. How? By offering social and emotional education to children and youth. Within the safe space of the circle, young people are equipped with skills and language to create healthy relationships.

Says one youth, “The Circle’s programming has helped me start the journey of taking care of myself which has, in turn, helped me to help other people and help me grow stronger friendships and relationships. I don’t see any reason why someone wouldn’t want to be a part of a program like this.”

Other notable achievements from this year include the development and delivery of The Circle’s first facilitator training for educators and people who work with youth. The Circle also ran its second annual Giving Tuesday campaign and its first-ever Purse Auction, which combined raised over $13,000 towards supporting youth in the community. The Circle is excited to offer its first summer camps, Y.E.L.L. & The Trust Project, this July and August. Registration is still open, and you can find more information on PARC’s website.

From everyone at The Circle, thank you for your ongoing support. Without you, The Circle’s work of helping to create inclusive and gender-equitable communities living violence-free would not be possible.