Client Spotlight: Craig Stephens – Helping Canadian Soldiers and First Responders Heal
Today we talk with Craig Stephens, media expert and creator of longridehome.ca. The organisation is dedicated to creating greater awareness of various innovative paths to healing for injured current and former Canadian soldiers and first responders. Craig has been kind enough to share his experiences with us in this interview.
Hi Craig, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your passions?
No problem and thank you for the opportunity! My name is Craig Stephens and I’m a writer, filmmaker and instructional designer based in Toronto, Canada. I currently own and operate MediaDiner.com which specializes in copywriting, instructional design, video and animation for clients in Canada and around the world.
However, what I would like to talk about today is my passion project. More than a year ago I launched a website called longridehome.ca to improve awareness of the physical and mental health issues faced by current or former members of the Canadian Forces and first responders – police officers, firefighters, correctional officers and paramedics - and the programs created to support them.
Interesting! Can you give us some more details on what longridehome.ca is about?
Certainly. The site exists for two main purposes:
To be a resource for members in the Canadian Forces, first responders and their loved ones to learn about innovative healing paths. The site provides video interviews from health professionals as well as service members who are in the process of healing. There is no one path to recovery and it is very important that people know that there are many options available to them. That way, they can choose a healing path best suited to their needs and preferences.
The other purpose is to create awareness: To help the public understand the real struggles our fellow Canadians go through. I mean, some people are still unaware or unconvinced that PTSD, moral injury and similar psychological wounds are very real and very debilitating. Go back as early as five years ago and there was far less public discussion on the matter.
This Google Trends graph shows how little PTSD was searched for in 2010 but that awareness has slowly been improving.
How does your website try to promote awareness on the struggles of members of the Canadian Forces and first responders?
I have been following programs, such as Saddle Up Soldier, Soldier On, Kingston Institute of Psychotherapy & Neurotherapy, and Project Trauma Support, interviewing staff and participants to create videos aimed at providing a greater understanding of the people and the programs. My end goal is to create a 6-part mini-series on the subject.
Have you started work on the mini-series?
Yes. I have several videos already on the site and more on the way. I managed to film some truly amazing stories and will have them up on the site in the next few months.
Can you tell us how longridehome.ca all began?
Well, it is something that I’ve thought about for a long time but if I had to pick a single event that motivated me it would be visiting the Saddle Up Soldier program, run by the Riding Academy at the Horse Palace and Toronto’s Mounted Police Unit. The program was a horseback riding camp that assist people with mental and/or physical injuries.
I was amazed at how much of a positive influence it had on participants. This in turn gave me a focus and motivated me to assist their efforts. However, I also learning that recovery is often multi-tiered; requiring a variety of different methods and programs. That is why I broadened my project to include more than just equine therapy.
How did you come up with the name for the site?
Since I was so impressed with the equine therapy I was thinking about creating a name connected to it. But since that is only one method, I decided on longridehome.ca. It sends the message that there is more than one path to recovery, but that they are all trying to lead you back to a healthy life.
You must have learned a great deal from your interviews and research, can you share with us any important lessons?
I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that people going through these processes are among the bravest people I’ve ever known. I’ve met all kinds of inspiring people who show incredible strength in overcoming challenges most of us couldn’t imagine.
All of us experience trauma in life to one degree or another. But if trauma is ongoing, severe and something you encounter every day in your work, you will suffer injury, no matter who you are. My overriding goal is to help people understand that there is a way back and that there are programs across Canada to help. You just need to do, what is for many, the hardest thing of all: to reach out and ask for help.
That is a great goal. Obviously, the website plays a big part in your project, what influenced your decision to host your site with Web Hosting Canada?
As my project is specific to Canada I wanted to work with a Canadian company. I did some searching online and decided to go with WHC as it seemed to offer a lot for a reasonable price.
Has Web Hosting Canada met your expectations?
Definitely. I’m glad that I chose to go with WHC. I’m not the most technologically savvy person in the world with websites, so I really appreciate the great customer support. I’ve never had to wait long for a response and everyone I’ve interacted with has been very friendly and efficient at finding a solution.
Thank you very much, Craig! One last question. Is there anyway people can help with your project?
Yes, as my goal is awareness I would greatly appreciate if my site was shared on social media to help get the message out. Especially if someone can share it with current or former service members and first responders.
Down the road, I plan to launch a GoFundMe campaign to assist with my mini-series. If a person can spare even a little, it will help in moving the project closer to completion.
A big thank you to Craig for providing this great information and a big round of applause for his passion for helping Canadian Forces and first responders. We invite you to visit longridehome.ca to watch the inspiring videos and information it offers. To contact Craig, you may do so through the contact form on his site or connect with him on LinkedIn.
If you are interested in having a client spotlight about your company or endeavours, please feel free to contact the Web Hosting Canada Team.
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