NCD message from I Belong Bags Founder, Tanya Forbes

A profound sense of belonging forms the very foundation of our human existence. It intricately weaves itself into the fabric of our lives, influencing our behaviors, protective mechanisms, and resilience. When belonging is absent, we experience disconnection, isolation, an inability to navigate even the simplest of life’s challenges, and a pervasive mistrust of the world.

Consider, for a moment, the plight of a child or teenager abruptly forced to leave their home due to circumstances such as violence, neglect, family crises, or homelessness. They find themselves with nothing more than the clothes on their back, or in some cases, a mere garbage bag to collect their meager belongings. They are frightened, feel unsafe, lonely, and uncertain about their future. This singular moment can cast a shadow of lasting emotional and psychological trauma upon a young soul. Carrying their possessions in a trash bag sends a heartbreaking message – that they are as disposable as the belongings they carry in a garbage bag. The consequence of this meaning-making moment includes a loss of identity and belonging, a plummeting self-esteem, heightened trauma, and mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. The future potential of this brave and brilliant child is stifled. No need for statistics to illustrate the profound impact of this pivotal moment.

Enter I Belong Bags Foundation. We aim to transform this traumatic moment from one of fear and uncertainty to an experience that restores dignity and belonging, rekindles hope and resilience, and rebuilds faith in the world. We collaborate with organizations that support at-risk youth, providing them with backpacks filled with comfort items like pajamas, toothbrushes, toiletries, stuffed animals, books, journals, toys, and games. Through these gestures, we remind them that they belong, are valued and seen by their community, and possess the potential for a brighter future, regardless of their circumstances. It is all too easy for our young people to remain overlooked and unseen or merely thought of as a “cause”. They embody the very future of our community and are deserving of recognition, a voice, value, and support. I Belong Bags Foundation is resolutely committed to breaking the cycle of negative inner narratives, empowering these youth to thrive, and reinforcing the fact that they belong and are cared for by their community.

As we approach National Child Day in 2023, it is imperative to reflect upon the rights and well-being of the youngest members of our community. This year’s theme, “Belonging and Inclusion,” serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of ensuring that every child feels valued, secure, and an integral part of our collective future. I Belong Bags Foundation (IBB) embodies this theme through its unwavering commitment to supporting at-risk children and youth. We invite you to stand with us in raising awareness of the needs and rights of youth in our city as we celebrate this significant day.

Tanya Forbes
Founder, Executive Director
I Belong Bags Foundation