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Relationships Matter

Can we ever stress enough that healthy relationships are important? Important to children, important to youth, to adults, to the elderly, to neighbourhoods, communities and organizations, companies, governments and countries. As researchers who invest countless hours into the subject, we know this to be fact. Most people probably give the notion little thought unless they find themselves in an unhealthy relationship. A recent Globe and Mail article by Elizabeth Renzetti has me thinking more about a call to action on the topic. Through stories and statistics that will wrench your heart about how many Canadians are lonely and negatively affected by loneliness, the article delivers a clear message: relationships matter. The article points to an epidemic of loneliness that will leave many concerned about the physical and mental health of our population.

 Being lonely isn’t necessarily about being alone – many people who live alone and spend time alone don’t feel lonely. Being lonely is feeling disconnected from those around you. So I’m not concerned about friends and family who live alone or need time alone now and again; solitude is important, especially for introverts. I am concerned about those who are disconnected and not involved in at least one healthy relationship. Renzetti’s article pointed out the many risks associated with loneliness and in contrast, the many benefits of healthy relationships.

So, while that article probably encouraged you to call or text a friend like it did for me, there must be more we can do. We might benefit from disconnecting from our technology once in a while to appreciate the people and experiences right in front of us (a concept so perfectly captured in a short film by Charlene deGuzman). As Renzetti points out, “It is the great irony of our age that we have never been better connected, or more adrift.” And yet our need for connection is so apparent, with entire academic journals dedicated to the topic, self-help books and blogs about relationships in abundance, and organizations like ours dedicated to improving education and practice about healthy relationships.

 Just like you and I, there are so many children and youth in Canada who also need healthy relationships. Have you been thinking about volunteering with your local Big Brothers, Big Sisters mentoring program? Or perhaps you’ve been thinking about joining one of Egale Canada’s campaigns? Maybe you’ve been thinking about volunteering or working with Kids Help Phone? There’s no better time than right now to take the next step toward creating healthy relationships in your life, in the lives of others in your community and in the lives of all Canadians.

PREVNet partners with national child and youth-serving organizations that do amazing work in the lives of children and youth every day. Do yourself a favour: make a connection by helping your community, and make a difference in the lives of Canadian children and youth. Learn more about PREVNet’s partner organizations here.

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