PRINCE RUPERT, BC: ‘The most valuable service is one rendered to our fellow humans.’ This Buddhist teaching underpins Olga Radzikh’s work with families in Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii.
“When a child is first diagnosed with a special need, the family sometimes needs extra support to help them navigate their new reality,” says Radzikh, a social worker for children and youth with special needs (CYSN).
For two and a half years, Radzikh has been supporting parents of children and youth with special needs. She helps them connect with vital resources like occupational, physical and speech therapy, as well as autism-intervention and infant development programming. She encourages families to access community agencies that offer parent support programs and behavioural analysis services.
In the northern communities of Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii, Kitkatla, Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla – the areas Radzikh serves – families may need to travel to access services. It is Radzikh’s job to make sure they are aware of programs near and far, even travelling to remote locales to deliver presentations for parents. The dedicated social worker has been known to drive clients to appointments across town or stay late to listen in order to understand a struggling parent’s viewpoint.
“She’s a truly devoted team player,” said Zena Van Rosi, CYSN team leader. “Her community spirit and commitment to bettering the lives of people around her is evident in everything she does.”
Noting the large number of Indigenous families in the area, Radzikh knows how important it is for her work to be inclusive, culturally safe and trauma-informed. She strives to create a caring and trusting bond with all her clients, many of whom are vulnerable.
“These parents may not be comfortable reaching out to the Ministry of Children and Family Development for help,” Radzikh said. “They may feel lost, alone and confused after their child has been diagnosed with a special need.” Offering a listening ear, reassurance, perspective and connections, Radzikh helps break down that wall.
Improving the lives of those with special needs has been a lifelong interest for the 30-year-old social worker. As she explained, “the most rewarding part of my job is when parents come to my office and tell me what a positive impact the connections and supports have made for their child, for themselves as caregivers and for their family as a whole.”