On February 24th, 2012, a group of motivated young people came together to tackle bullying and suicide prevention for marginalised youth, after 16-year-old George Kazanjian tragically took his own life. George’s passing ignited a flame under these youths, a flame that burns even brighter today. We are incredibly honoured and proud to be here, six years later.
From the introduction of our Safe Space sessions at the University of the West Indies in 2013, the development of parenting resources for parents and guardians who had no idea on how to brace their LGBTQ-identified child about the sexual identity in 2014, we have only continued to build on this momentum, creating programmes and initiatives aimed at encouraging the development of safer spaces for our youth and building and strengthening familial bonds.
When we started the foundation, we were met with some resistance and adversity – something for which we were preparing ourselves. However, as we have grown and reached more people, we have seen an increase in those willing to stand with us and fight to protect those we serve. We see, now, the desire that more and more people have to effect change, personally and legislatively, and we are more grateful than ever to be in the position that we are today.
Our goals and objectives have grown in our short lifespan, due to our willingness to fight for anti-discrimination, bullying intervention and prevention, inclusion, and advocacy. We continue to shine a light on an often overlooked and underserved community and through our strategic partnerships and alliances and we are hopeful to continue to be that beacon for those who seek it.
In September 2017, we launched our Stronger Families initiative, a programme designed to offer support from a therapeutic and network viewpoint which enables group members to confront personal anxieties and fears while discussing issues related to gender, sexuality and identity in order to develop effective communication and interpersonal relationships with their LGBTQ children. Guided by trained counsellors, parents and guardians participated in this peer support group and left with various tools and resources to help navigate the challenges of caring for their queer or questioning children. Comments from participants expressed their gratitude for a programme such as this, as it broke the mould on these conversations and let them know that they were not alone.
We have only touched the surface of what we hope to achieve. A snapshot of our programmes and initiatives over the years include:
- Safe Space
- Day of Silence: 2013 – present
- Stories Break Silence – a collection of stories by LGBTQ people dealing with their existence
- Short Film – A Safe Space (an official selection of the 2015 Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival, available for viewing on our YouTube Page)
- Stronger Families
- School Climate Survey (results to be released in March of 2018 with a second round to be conducted soon after)
- Teacher Training: a workshop for teachers designed to assist in treating with matters of sexual identity and gender diversity in school
Since our inception, we have aimed to do what is necessary to encourage healthy dialogue on LGBTQ issues and develop safer spaces. We believe that through our three-pronged framework of support, education and advocacy, we can truly influence a culture shift – one that has been evident in your messages to us. Our vision remains the same and we have managed to surpass even our expectations, thanks – in part – to all of you. We remain humbled and incredibly grateful for the support that you have given us over the past six years and we hope that we continue to hold your hands as we usher into another landmark year for us.
If you wish to become involved in the second cycle of our Stronger Families initiative or any of our other programmes, please contact us directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone at 1-868-470-1967. Please be sure to follow us across our social media pages on Facebook (The Silver Lining Foundation), Twitter (@SLFtt) or our Instagram page (@silverliningtt) for further updates related to all projects currently on-going by the Foundation.
We thank you and look forward to your continued support for this coming year!
The SLF Team