“Our youth are the torchbearers of change, and investing in their education and well-being is investing in a brighter tomorrow for everyone”: a conversation with new YWCA staffer, Alana Decker

Alana Decker is no stranger to YWCA Cambridge. Now one of YWCA’s newest programming staff members at our community programming space, The W, Alana first engaged with us when The W hosted an event during this year’s Black History Month put on by Alana, Rythym and Blues, and Nicole Brown-Faulkner of Trauma and Embodiment Association of Ontario, called Art From The Heart Processing. Alana’s journey to YWCA Cambridge, her perspectives on the work we do and the gifts she brings to it beautifully embody our mission of being responsive to changing needs while continually advancing gender equity.

Read on for a conversation we had with Alana about her journey here and what she hopes to achieve as a member of the YWCA Cambridge programming team.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you became familiar with YWCA/The W?

I am a proud mother of four wonderful children and a devoted wife to an incredible partner. In addition to my roles within my family, I serve as a dedicated board member for the Preston Heights Community Group, volunteering my time to support and uplift our community. As a visual artist, my creations serve as a powerful form of advocacy, aiming to break down the stigma surrounding mental health, and stand against GBV, IPV and racism.

Alana Decker stands outside in front of The W's window. She has her arms outstretched and she's smiling
Alana Decker, pictured above, is a new member of the YWCA Cambridge staff team at The W. She will be facilitating in-school and in-centre programming for youth across Waterloo Region.

My journey with the YWCA began through facilitating a program I co-founded called Art From The Heart Processing. This initiative, which combines somatic movement and artistic expression, provides a nurturing space for individuals to connect with themselves and others. Through this program, participants are encouraged to engage in self-care practices and to explore their emotions in a supportive environment, fostering a sense of visibility, understanding, and safety.

What is it about YWCA/The W that sets it apart from other community/youth spaces/programming?

The YWCA truly embodies a sense of magic and inclusivity. Within its walls, individuals are encouraged to embrace their authentic selves, with every aspect celebrated and honoured. It’s more than just a building; it’s a sanctuary where respect and safety are paramount.

Upon entering the YWCA, one is immediately enveloped by an ambiance that is both artistic and welcoming. This environment fosters a feeling of security and care, allowing visitors to let down their guard and feel at ease. What sets the YWCA apart is not only its commitment to creating safe spaces but also its dedication to taking tangible action to uphold those values.

You’ve mentioned you truly believe in YWCA/The W’s programming. Can you tell us more about why that is?  

I had the privilege of witnessing The W’s programming in action at a local school, and it was truly eye-opening. It highlighted the vital role such initiatives play, especially considering that some households may struggle with addressing these topics at home, and even teachers may find it challenging to approach certain subjects. This reinforces that it truly does take a village to raise a child.

The importance of these programs cannot be overstated, as they pave the way for essential conversations and education that are fundamental to shaping our future. Our youth are the torchbearers of change, and investing in their education and well-being is investing in a brighter tomorrow for everyone.

As a new member of the team at The W, what are you most excited about achieving/doing?

I would be thrilled to launch an inclusive art/therapeutic art program  that caters to all ages, essentially establishing a hub for creators. Through my years of facilitating and personal creative endeavors, I’ve come to realize that art communicates a universal language and offers solace to many during the creative process. It has a unique ability to keep individuals fully present and engrossed in the moment.

One of the most rewarding aspects of this endeavor is witnessing the diverse expressions of creativity that emerge. I take immense joy in observing participants immerse themselves in their creations and witnessing their sense of pride upon completing their work. It’s truly a testament to the transformative power of art.

What’s something you wish more people knew about YWCA/The W?

I wish more people understood the profound value that The W brings to our community. The staff members are not only incredibly supportive but also deeply committed to witnessing and fostering personal growth and positive change. From their impactful programs and programs within schools to their unwavering advocacy efforts, The W’s dedication speaks volumes.

The recent plan to establish an emergency homelessness shelter in Cambridge stands as a testament to The W’s impactful work. Being part of such a remarkable team fills me with immense pride. It’s moments like these that truly highlight the importance of collective action and community support.

If YWCA/The W suddenly found itself with unlimited resources and capacity, what’s something you’d want to see? It could be a whole different program, or the expansion/improvement of an existing program. 

I would love to see a Therapeutic Art Life Coach program where the program combines therapeutic art with life coaching to offer personalized support for navigating life’s challenges and achieving goals. Participants engage in creative activities to cultivate self-awareness, overcome obstacles, and create positive change.

It would provide a nurturing environment for personal growth and transformation, addressing a range of needs from stress management to finding purpose and fulfillment.


We are so thrilled to welcome Alana to our team! 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top