Child and Youth Care

Turn Out the Lights

Child and Youth Care is a relational practice that seeks to support marginalized young people. CYC practitioners aspire to meet young people in their life space using every day moments as they move toward healing and reconciliation. Obviously, CYC should be an empathic practice.  But this project explored how professionals working in CYC are 'prepared' for practice. Led by CYC students, young people with lived care experience, and a CYC educator, we considered if empathy and caring can be taught … wondering if it is possible to teach what it is to value and trust instinctual wisdom, care ethics, love, and relational ways of knowing about the world.  

Turn Out the Lights began as a keynote address for the 2017 Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care Provincial Conference.  But when we the six of us entered the studio for the first time we left the key note address behind and entered the domain of relational inquiry. 

Turn Out the Lights begins with a choreographed ‘speech’ as dancers experience the ambiguity of teaching about love and care as an academic subject. As the disconnect between academic preparation for CYC or social work practice becomes evident, three CYC students emerge from the audience and share their personal journeys. The narratives of these students become duets - sharing lived experiences of abuse, social injustice, mental illness, homelessness, marginalization, oppression, resilience and great wisdom.  The intimate nature of the duets - spoken and danced create powerful vignettes … fully realized as the dancers gradually absorb the experience of their partners in ways that transcend language.  Turn Out the Lights stunned seasoned CYC professionals at its debut - earning a command second showing at the 2018 World Child and Youth Care conference in California.