County of Strathcona, September 27 – On this day, a great new beginning was celebrated in a heavily wooded area of the County of Strathcona, near Bennett Lake, East of the City of Sherwood Park. A dream of Glori Meldrum’s and the Little Warriors’ supporters and sponsors, this mature property, including several buildings set among green spaces, was entirely renovated with new elements recently built. The Be Brave Ranch by Ray Labonte and Family was created to offer a welcoming refuge and a center of healing and counselling to victims (survivors) of Child Sexual Abuse.
The Little Warriors was born in St. Albert five years ago to offer professional help to children who are struggling with this ugly reality, and to their families dealing with the aftermath of this horrible abuse. The Be Brave Ranch offers an evidence based treatment program for children ages 8-12, in a one year program that will include 200 hours of counseling, music, art and play therapy.
In the City of Leduc, a man with a passionate hobby recently completed an impressive project, with his own two hands and a clear vision. Ian Brett, who lived in the Leduc-Calmar area for thirty years and returned to Leduc last year, builds replicas of famous ships. Some thirty years ago, after seriously injuring his hand on an industrial machine, he was told by doctors that he should take up a hobby that would require complex manipulation, to preserve what remained of his dexterity. He went back to his childhood hobby of building models, and has had one project after another on the go ever since.
Now he has completed his model of the Mayflower, a historic ship that brought English settlers to the New World in 1620.
This impressive replica, measuring 32 inches long, 12 inches wide and 24 inches high, is comprised of an astonishing total of 2,500 parts and more than 9 metres of rigging (that’s over 27 feet of tiny cables strung and knotted with incredible precision). It took him more than 4,500 hours to build it.
Mr. Brett has been a dedicated volunteer for the Little Warriors for three and a half years, selling food at football games and LPG tournaments and helping out at other fundraising events. Having experienced this kind of abuse as a child, he has a strong empathy for the children of today who have more therapy options than he did all those years ago, as this abuse is now more ‘in the open’, recognized by school administrators, counsellors and teachers.
The connection here? New beginnings. In 1620, the Mayflower offered a new beginning to adventurous Pilgrims after a challenging three month winter voyage, and in 2014, the Be Brave Ranch offers a new beginning to children who have suffered at the hands of others, sometimes a relative, a family friend. Theo Fleury, an NHL alumnus, was mixing with other guests, as he has shared his sad experience publicly and wrote about it in his biography. Danielle Smith was also among the many VIP guests who have steadfastly supported Ms. Meldrum’s dream.
At the Be Brave Ranch Grand Opening, hundreds of guests were happy to walk around the property and enter most of the buildings, where they found comfy furnishings, colorful art and a simple, yet effective design for common areas and children’s bedrooms. The art is positive, promoting ‘Be strong,’ ‘Forgiveness’ and other dynamic phrases. The ‘Mertz’ and the ‘Shoemaker’ homes offer spacious bedrooms and well equipped kitchens. In the Main Lodge, there is a Music Therapy room, a great Family Room, a Native inspired room for ‘circle’ groups; all of it exuding a sense of peace, and a strong feel of youthful and optimistic spirit. Glori Meldrum was a congenial host, dynamically thanking generous supporters and offering framed art to key players in the Ranch journey. Cheerful Starbucks baristas offered free coffee on this chilly day, and the Sawmill Restaurant team was serving warm appetizers. On the stage, talented young singers added to the festivities, and a duo of bouncy structures entertained kids.
Dianne Young, a member of the Board, did not hesitate to proudly share that the Be Brave Ranch is a model that groups in other provinces are looking at and might be inspired to copy, to effectively deal with the ugly reality of Child Sexual Abuse, and the growing need to help the children affected. The Little Warriors organization is still gratefully accepting monetary support to help with the maintenance and operation of the Ranch, and to complete a few more additions to this complex property. So far, this project has surpassed its most ardent supporters’ plans and vision.
Pictured: Glori Meldrum dreamed the ‘Be Brave Ranch’, and her energy, passion and supporters have made it come true. Photo by Dominique Vrolyk