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Our Why

1 in 5 youth face the stress and stigma of a parent's substance use, leading to increased risks for mental health issues, substance use challenges, and intergenerational trauma. We address the lack of resources and support by building up peer leaders, increasing the capacity and understanding of the community, and developing resources which aim to prevent harm, foster healing, and disrupt the cycle of stress and stigma across generations.

But it didn't start off so formally, it started with a story. 

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Our Founding Story

Knowing what it felt like to grow up with the stress and stigma of a parent's substance use, our founder, Agnes, had a dream: that every youth growing up in similar situations could feel seen, supported, and unafraid to seek out support.   But turning a dream into reality, especially one so complex and sensitive is no small feat. In 2021, she founded Starlings Community as a not-for-profit, and since then, our vision has only grown stronger with every shared story, every new resource, and every community member joining our collective mission. so Agnes incorporated Starling Community as a not-for-profit in 2021, and since then, our vision has only grown stronger with every shared story, every new resource, and every community member joining our collective mission.

A society where every youth growing up with the challenges of a parent's substance use can

seek out support without the fear of stigma and other barriers. 

Inspired by the founder's professional experience as a registered nurse, and trauma-informed consultant, and personal experience with the stress and stigma of a parent's substance use, Starlings was born to fill a large gap in knowledge, resources, and relationships for impacted youth and the natural supports caring for them.  Contributing her healing to the ecosystem that has supported her, Agnes wants to ensure that every child, and every unhealed child in the many adults today who continue to share their story with us, have access to care without fear of harm towards them or their parents.

 

Today, Starlings is fueled by the passion of a collective of peers and allies, who are committed to disrupting the intergenerational effects of substance use stigma, ensuring every youth can reach out for support without fear of discrimination, parental criminalization, or family seperation.

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Our mission is to increase the presence of safe supports, resources, and relationships for youth who are exposed to the stress and stigma of a parent's substance use.

We envision a future where every youth can ask for help and find support without experiencing the stigma of a parent's substance use. 

Our Guiding Principles

01.

Knowledge Equity: Starlings respects the lived experience of youth and parents impacted by substance use stigma as legitimate and valuable. Our goal of knowledge equity is to ensure that impacted communities are not just involved as participants, but as partners and co-creators of research, policy, and practices, while ensuring equitable access to information for the youth and parents we serve.

02.

Children Rights From a  Family Centred Lens: Informed by the UN convention on the rights of a child, we believe that every child has a right to a healthy family, and every parent has a right to support in raising their children to thrive. At Starlings, we believe that by effectively addressing the needs of the parent, we are supporting the intergenerational well-being and safety of children, while also contributing to healthy familial relationships and thriving communities.

03.

Transformative Justice: At Starlings, we believe that the trauma and violence experienced by the families we serve are embedded in legislation, policies, and professional practices that rely on carceral approaches to child safety and well-being. These structural barriers prevent families from equitable access to support and resources which leads to stress and trauma in families. We aim to transform the environment supporting families by ensuring families experiencing difficulties receive the care all people inherently deserve.  

04.

Healing-Centred Approaches: At Starlings, we believe in the inherent resiliency of the families we serve and aim to facilitate their collective healing from the intergenerational consequences of substance use stigma. We are confident that the most effective way to ensure health and healing flourish in a community is to remove structural barriers that harm families by implementing holistic and collective approaches to care rooted in lived experience and anti-oppressive approaches.

Our Priority Areas

Peer Mentorship

Through our peer programs and volunteer opportunities, we mentor individuals who have been affected by the stress and stigma of a parent's substance use to contextualize their experiences and lead systemic changes to support youth and their families.

Resource Development and Dissemination

We produce and disseminate resources based on our lived experiences and needs, intended to support the hope and healing of our peers, empower allies committed to youth well-being, and ensure every family can access resources without fear of stigma and other harms. 

Education and Awareness

We produce and disseminate knowledge based on our lived experiences and needs, intended to support the hope and healing of our peers, empower allies committed to youth well-being, and inform policy that can ensure every family can access resources without fear of stigma and other harms. 

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