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theExpress Update

CommunityNews

Friday, Nov. 30, 2012

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Five thousand families later, Liz Amaral retires from NCSC by Rita Moir

Liz Amaral retires in December from Nelson Community Services Centre (NCSC) after 16 years of counselling area parents and children. She’s helped 5000 families, held 480 parent group sessions, 100 or more workshops, and baked 1,200 dozen chocolate chip cookies for the sessions and workshops (and grateful co-workers who benefited from the leftovers.) Amaral (or Liz, as everyone calls her) retires while still in love with her work, especially that moment when, after “connecting with a parent and walking with them in their angst, I can feel the relief in their breathing and the smile on their face. When I can add some small steps so they can connect the dots and find a way forward.” Parents will miss her deep understanding of families, a gift that comes from four decades of hands-on work, academic study and training in the area of childcare. Born in Vancouver, Liz was raised partly in Bermuda and received a Bermuda teaching scholarship to UBC. With her B.Ed., she taught elementary at Hume School in Nelson from 1971-75. When she and David had two children, people asked if she could also care for theirs, so she started the Blewett community playgroup, then Amarals’ Family Daycare. She operated her home daycare for 25 years, as their third child arrived and the first two moved through the school system and into their teenage years. During those hectic times, she also earned a Masters degree in

Education with a focus on daycare, looking into the way caregivers organized activities and how the kids used them. After a brief stint at Nelson Home Support, a temporary job at Nelson Community Services became permanent. The years at NCSC have flown by; the satisfaction is not only with counselling individual families, but with the team approach within NCSC and the broader professional community. When she talks about the����������������������������� child’s interests, she doesn’t mean children taking over. She means strong, whole families that can deal with the difficult challenges of the modern SUBMITTED world, and where parents take the reins in a society where Liz Amaral with lamb kids grow up far earlier than in previous decades. ������������ “For a child to be settled, ��������������������� they need a place to ‘land’. ����������������������������������������������������������������� How we create that for a child ������������������������������������������������������������� is really our adults’ work. The ������������������������������������������������������������ adults need to be in charge, to create the anchor and connect our schools and homes and community.” This discussion about society and families goes back to her recent seminar with the school staff and their discussion about connecting families, school and community. She loves this kind of energetic social debate and connection with individual ���������������������� �������������������� parents, and may eventually �������������������� ����������������� rebuild that connection by �������������������������� ����������� teaching continuing education �������������������������� ������������������� ���������������� ���������������� courses. ������������������ �������������� But for her entry-level ��������������������������� ��������������� into retirement, she is learning ��������������������� ������������������ to spin, a natural outgrowth of ������������������� ���������������� raising Babydoll and Shetland �������������� ���������������������� ���������������������� �������������� miniature sheep with her hus��������������� ������������� band, David, on their Blewett �������������������� ������������� farm – Greystone Acres.

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