TJ's Gift Presentations
Karen Wiebe is the Executive Director for the TJ’s Gift Foundation. But more than that, she is the mother of TJ Wiebe, murdered in 2003. The TJ’s Gift Foundation was created after this devastating loss.
Karen is a retired teacher, whose life took a 180 degree turn after the murder of her son. She has spoken to thousands of youth throughout Manitoba, telling them TJ’s story and helping them to make the choice to be drug free. Her belief in the power of young people to make good choices is the basis of her presentations. She believes that young people can influence their peers in a positive way and her further work is to support our youth in developing leadership skills that will provide them with these abilities. Karen also works with parents, teachers, community groups and government. Her willingness to work with anyone and everyone connected to young people has provided her with an enormous network of individuals and organizations whose purpose is to help kids be safe and avoid drug involvement.
Karen is a strong speaker, whose experiences and background have allowed her to have tremendous impact on her audiences. She has taken a horrendous personal tragedy and used it to help kids be safe, to support their families and to advocate for their needs with government.
Karen is experienced in speaking to:
Students from K – 4
These presentations are designed for the students receiving the presentation. Very young students participate in interactive workshops where they view appropriate videos and work on projects, promoting drug avoidance. They will receive wristbands reinforcing the dangers of drugs.
Middle Years Students
These students will participate in interactive workshops where they participate in discussions and hear about the devastating effects of drug involvement. They will hear TJ’s Story as part of this and receive pledge cards and wristbands to support their choices to remain drug free. These students will be encouraged to become actively involved in helping their peers to avoid drug involvement through leadership, positive peer pressure and working projects.
Senior Years Students
These students will receive a high interest presentation where the personal stories of TJ and his family will be presented, along with the effects of drug involvement for others. They will be challenged to think through their own actions as well as how they can support their friends through positive peer pressure. Students are encouraged to form a relationship with TJ’s Gift and options for social media are presented and encouraged. These presentations have a tremendous impact, with students often making decisions immediately to avoid drug involvement. Students will receive pledge cards and wristbands to support their choices to become and remain drug free. They will also be encouraged to become actively involved in helping their peers avoid drug involvement through leadership, positive peer pressure, peer mentoring and involving themselves in projects promoting safe choices to avoid drug involvement.
Many parents are challenged by the drug involvement of their children. Those families who are not being impacted by those destructive choices are often still impacted by the choices of extended family or their kids’ friends. As a result, parents are looking for support and for knowledge about how to handle their own situations. They often feel very alone. Parents will hear TJ’s Story and will learn about the impacts of his choices on his family. They will have the opportunity to receive support as they are going through their experiences around this area, helping them to know that there are supports available and that they are not alone.
As Karen is a retired teacher, she has an intimate knowledge of the role of the teacher and the importance of their leadership in dealing with children of all ages. Karen has provided many workshops to teachers in the past, especially through her involvement with the Teachers’ Society (MTS) where she sat on the Provincial Executive for 8 years, chairing a number of committees and being involved in Professional Development.
Since the murder of her son, TJ, in 2003, she has shifted her focus onto the issue of drug avoidance with kids. Teachers need support in dealing with kids coming to school who are involved with drugs. Teachers also need support in dealing with kids coming to school who are experiencing violence in their homes or in their communities.
TJ’s Story is a powerful tool in helping teachers understand their role in supporting kids who are trying to avoid drug involvement or kids who are looking for doors to escape that involvement.
Companies and Organizations
Many businesses and organizations are looking for motivational speakers to encourage their staff members and help them be happy in their jobs. Encouragement is found in resiliency and in the ability to overcome horrendous circumstances to find a way to continue on and contribute to society.
As the survivor of the homicide of her son, and just recently the death of her husband, Karen has been able to do just that. She has been able to pick up the pieces of her life and to carry on, supporting others through their journeys. Through sharing her story of triumph over adversity, she is able to encourage others who are also going through trying times.
Karen is willing to spend some time in communities where she is able to speak to different levels of school children, parents and teachers. Accommodations must be provided as well as transportation to more remote communities.