SWOVA changes name to The Circle Salt Spring Education Society


Salt Spring Women Opposed to Violence and Abuse — a group formed on Salt Spring Island more than 20 years ago — has announced a change of name for the organization.

SWOVA Community Development and Research Society has become The Circle Salt Spring Education Society, a name that reflects its long-time work in schools with children and youth.

According to a press release from the group, the idea for the change was brought to the organization several years ago. SWOVA’s program facilitators suggested that SWOVA change its name to embrace a more inclusive perspective that empowers everyone with the attitudes and skills for healthy and respectful relationships.

“The process began with a fruitful discussion about how to prepare SWOVA for the next decades of its service to the Salt Spring community and beyond. After researching, brainstorming and consulting, the organization’s staff and board decided on a name that’s easy to remember and say — a name that reflects SWOVA’s values, such as respect and diversity.”

Its new name — The Circle — reflects a key feature of the organization’s long-time work. When program 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, they explain.

“Despite the name change, the staff and board remain grounded in the vision that SWOVA had embraced since its founding: inclusive and gender-equitable communities living violence-free. How? By offering social and emotional education to children, youth and adults and inspiring and training others to deliver our programs.”

Programs include The Empathy Project (for Grades 3, 4 and 5); The Respect Project (Grades 6, 7 and 8); Pass It On (Grade 8 students, as buddies, with high school students, as mentors); and Key Components to Facilitation with Youth (adult training).

“The Circle is about social and emotional education. It’s about holding a space where everyone has the courage to speak up and to trust their voice and the power it holds to make change in the world. Within the safe space of the circle, young people are equipped with skills and language to create healthy relationships. Within the circle, youth are empowered for a better tomorrow, and the work begins to help create inclusive and gender-equitable communities living violence-free.”

For more information, people can contact the group’s executive director Janine Fernandes-Hayden at executivedirector@thecircleeducation.org or call 250-537-1336.

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