Provincial grant aims to empower women in Calgary


Hazel Kikot plays with her 11-month-old son Haiden during an event at Sunalta Community Centre. Kikot is part of Connections Counselling and Consulting Foundation, which received a $34,000 grant from the province. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Life hasn’t always been easy for single mom Hazel Kikot, who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome.

But the Connections Counselling and Consulting Foundation in Calgary has given her something she was missing.

“I just felt a part of something which I’ve never really had before,” Kikot told CBC News Sunday.

That feeling made her eager to participate in the foundation’s Brand New Me workshop series, designed to aid women with disabilities who have experienced violence, lack personal confidence or need help with life skills.

The workshops help women develop social and boundary-setting skills, build self-confidence and also include sexual health education, employment preparation and tools to address abusive relationships.

“In school I’ve always struggled so with Connections, it’s more hands-on and they’ve shown me and walked me through it and always are positive, they give positive vibes,” Kikot said.

$34K grant from province

On Sunday, the Alberta Ministry of Status of Women announced a $34,000 grant for the foundation during a gathering at the Sunalta Community Centre.

For foundation director Erin Waite, the money means being able to offer the program to more who need it.

Connections Counselling and Consulting Foundation Hazel Kikot

Hazel Kikot credits the foundation with improving her own self-esteem. (Mike Symington/CBC)

“A big factor in their lives is isolation,” she said. “And so what happens is, they’ve faced the stigma of disability all their lives and because of that they don’t participate in community events, even when it’s made available to them.”

Some of the money will be used to fund transportation and daycare services, which Waite said are often barriers to participation.

“This kind of programming really ensures that portions of our population that are being left out get to participate, which makes a big difference,” Waite said.

The workshops run until January 2018.

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