Offering support: Glori Meldrum builds a legacy of helping people heal
By Mark Campbell
A survivor of child sexual abuse, Glori Meldrum (BComm’95) was determined to provide other survivors with something that was not readily available to her: support. She founded Little Warriors, a national charitable organization focused on increased awareness, prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse.
When Glori Meldrum talks about her efforts to combat child sexual abuse, she makes it emphatically clear that she is a survivor, not a victim.
“I don’t see myself that way [as a victim],” says Meldrum, who is also a cancer survivor. “I took my pain and turned it into good. And everyone is capable of doing the same. I’m no different from anyone, except that my grit, resilience, perseverance and confidence enable me to get things done.”
Meldrum, an Alberta-based marketing entrepreneur, is founder of Little Warriors, a national charitable organization that has developed several innovative and evidence-based programs dedicated to enhancing awareness, prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse. They include Prevent It!, an educational workshop developed in conjunction with University of Alberta researchers; Be Brave Bridge, an online program that connects counsellors and coaches with children, youth and parents; and Be Brave Ranch, the only long-term, peer-reviewed treatment centre focused on children who have been sexually abused.
For Meldrum, Little Warriors and its programs are a way to provide help she wishes had been available when she was growing up in Miramichi, N.B. “I knew in my teenage years that I wanted to do something for kids like me,” she says. “I didn’t know what that was until I had an ‘aha’ moment at a business conference in Montreal. I wrote the entire business plan on a hotel note pad and, when I got home, I set up a board and got my charitable status.”
Reducing PTSD at Be Brave Ranch
Of all the initiatives Little Warriors has introduced, it is the Be Brave Ranch that has special resonance for Meldrum. Located just outside Edmonton, Alta., the intensive 12-month therapeutic program welcomes more than 100 children from across Canada each year. “It really is pure happiness that they are brave enough to do the work,” Meldrum says. “It is also rewarding to see how much the program changes their lives. We have one graduate who is going to university and another who is getting married. To be able to give a gift like that to beautiful children is just beyond words for me.”
The Be Brave Ranch’s success in achieving impactful change among participants is due in part to its focus on reducing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which Meldrum says is crucial.
If you can intervene at an early age and pull it [PTSD] up by its roots, you don’t get all the other mental health-related issues that follow,” she explains. Meldrum says the immediate results they achieved in reducing PTSD among kids were phenomenal. “We hit a home run right from the start.”
Motivation to carry on
Meldrum overcame low grades to fulfill a childhood dream to study at Dalhousie, and says while she’s received other accolades, this is the first she recalls receiving from home. “I am so proud of where I went to school. To be honoured by Dalhousie is a big deal for me.”
The Aurum Award also encourages Meldrum to continue her work. She is excited that Little Warriors is launching two new initiatives: an outpatient trauma centre and a centre that will offer a therapeutic program for adults. She has an upcoming podcast, Warriors, that will interview people who are making a difference. She is following up her best-selling autobiography, Warrior, with a new book on giving up the things you cannot control. And she is looking for opportunities to enhance the field of mental wellness so that it better serves survivors like her.
“I want to see every kid who has been sexually abused get treatment, whether that is at a facility we created through Little Warriors or one that is based on ours,” she says. “I want my legacy to be one of helping people heal.”