The YWCA provides safety, support and empowerment to individuals who are marginalized by gender, particularly those facing domestic abuse, intimate partner or family violence.  Their mission is to provide a safe haven for women and families seeking refuge from these kinds of challenges.

Of the many programs they offer, the 'Safe Space' program is tuned specifically to middle-years students "to help them understand healthy relationships, self-confidence, information about themselves and their bodies as they grow up, and where they can access resources and assistance if they are in a situation that is unsafe," shares YWCA Executive Director, Lois Ruston.

"Certainly, it looks at things from a preventative perspective," she adds. 

"We're really trying to work with our younger population and our young people so that they embark on their relationships with some knowledge and some tools that help them navigate towards healthy and safe relationships."

Ruston notes that unfortunately some kids in the middle-school years may not have a strong support at home to mentor them in these areas, or they might have a very difficult relationship with their parents at home making it difficult to learn from a positive role model. "So, we try to provide for them what those healthy relationships look like and some things that they can do to make sure that they're participating in a healthy relationship as they get older."

The YWCA facilitates the Safe Space program in many schools within the Brandon city limits, sharing resources and information to students in grades 5 and 6. Over 600 students participated in this past reporting cycle/school year.

When it comes to domestic violence, Ruston says 'it knows no postal code. It truly doesn't. It happens everywhere in our communities and so we want to be that safe space for families that need it."

For more information on the Westman YWCA please visit their website HERE!