Completing her Therapeutic Recreation degree at University of Waterloo, Sofia Babici chose to do an internship at Lutherwood’s Children’s Mental Health Centre.

While she had worked with adults with disabilities and seniors, she didn’t have much experience with youth. “I thought, maybe my programs wouldn’t be engaging enough, or I might not be able to connect with the kiddos,” she said. Sofia soon learned that her programming would not only benefit the 12- to 18-year-old youth at the centre, but it would impact her too.

“These kids are some of the best people I’ve ever met,” Sofia reflected passionately. “Despite dealing with different traumas and diagnoses… they love being at Lutherwood because they feel they belong. They don’t feel judged, they feel accepted. They are already radically accepting themselves, and that’s something I haven’t even been able to do yet!”

Her time at Lutherwood helped her step back and look at her own mental health and the type of Recreational Therapist she wants to be. She notes that the stronger you are in yourself, the better you can assist others, and Lutherwood helps youth build that baseline.

“Starting conversations about mental health at a young age is so important,” she explained. “Whether or not you’re currently struggling, hardships can always come up in life, so setting up that strong foundation helps to not feel stigmatized. Mental health wasn’t talked about in my childhood, it was something I had to figure out on my own. Having a place like Lutherwood is such a privilege because it gets those conversations started at a pivotal developmental age.”

Sofia often reflects on her experience at Lutherwood. “Lutherwood changed the way I’m living my life. I’m so grateful for the experience I had and where it got me today with being myself and helping myself. That’s what the kids are working to do at Lutherwood, and I love that they taught me that too.”