It’s Social Work Month, and alum Landon Turlock (BSW ’18) talks about how taking a big-picture approach is an essential part of affecting system-wide change.

Social work alum takes a big-picture approach to affecting change

March 24, 2021 | Society
Earlier in my career, I worked a lot with youth released from the Edmonton Young Offender Centre. I loved the work I was doing and knew it was really important, but I also knew that there were a lot of underlying issues the young people I was working with were facing. I felt that if we only focused on the behaviours of these youth instead of the oppressive, marginalizing systems they were impacted by, their challenges would continue.

There was this one young man I remember trying to set up with housing. I saw how hard it was for him to navigate the gaps in the system. And when he lost his housing, he would go back to the same survival behaviours that would land him back in the Young Offender Centre.

I thought about him a lot. I still do. If the services were stronger, more adaptive, more responsive and more inclusive, maybe that housing would have worked out for him. Maybe things could have been different.

It’s stories like his that really motivated me to use my social work degree to look at the bigger picture and to work to help address some of the complex social issues in our communities. For the past two years, I’ve been working with the Resiliency Project to prevent and counter underlying causes of violent extremism through awareness, education, research, and online and offline intervention.

We’ve reached more than 1,500 people with our Understanding Hate and Extremism Awareness sessions, many of whom work in social services, nonprofit organizations, policing and education. We’re helping people build their awareness about hate-motivated violence, understand how people become involved in violent extremism, and how to support people victimized by hate.

There is still so much to do, but it feels like we actually are filling in some of those gaps I saw earlier in my career. To me, it illustrates how social work is essential to addressing the social issues we face. And it gives me hope that we can all work together to build a safe, healthy, inclusive and just society – one where all people are supported to succeed, not set up to fail.

– Landon Turlock (BSW '18),Community Safety Liaison with the Resiliency Project

Learn more about the Bachelor of Social Work program. 


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