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Teen victim of April 2 arson tackling domestic violence head-on

A family’s home was destroyed by fire in the early hours of April 2, after father Andre Harvey Richard allegedly set fire to it, and attcked his wife and daughter. The 14-year-old girl is now dealing with her trauma by setting up a program to help other young women affected by domestic violence. - Dan Ferguson/Langley Times
A family’s home was destroyed by fire in the early hours of April 2, after father Andre Harvey Richard allegedly set fire to it, and attcked his wife and daughter. The 14-year-old girl is now dealing with her trauma by setting up a program to help other young women affected by domestic violence.
— image credit: Dan Ferguson/Langley Times

The 14-year-old girl victimized in the arson and attempted murder in her Langley Meadows home last month is creating a program to help other young women impacted by domestic violence.

“I want to do this because I have been through so much stuff and want to help other people in similar situations. I always felt like I’m alone and now I know I’m not,” said  the 14-year-old, in a statement released by her aunt Loretta Cella. Loretta is helping her create the outreach program that they hope to have ready for August.

The teen’s father, Andre Harvey Richard, is currently in jail facing 13 criminal charges, accused of trying to kill his estranged wife and her two children by setting fire to their Langley Meadows home at 1 a.m on April 2.

The 14-year-old was allegedly assaulted by the accused when she tried to protect her mother from being attacked by him in her bedroom.

Loretta Cella, sister to the teen’s mom, is founder of the Passion Foundation and her board of directors has voted to create a fund to get the outreach program off the ground. The aunt and niece aim to have it launch this summer at a Langley community centre or school, to help 10 to 20 young women impacted by domestic violence.

The new program will be called Healing Our Hurting Hearts Club, “a name my niece chose as a special space for girls to do just that,” said Loretta.

The Passion Foundation is an organization that supports leadership development for young women around the world.

“A heart-wrenching incident took place in the early morning hours of April 2, when my family members’ lives were turned upside down by acts of domestic violence and arson. My sister and her kids have been feeling a tremendous amount of pain on more levels than we can really speak to, but we are also very grateful for the outreach and support from everywhere.

“My niece has experienced deep trauma and continues to deal with the painful emotions associated with this event, but as a survivor of domestic violence she wants to create change for herself and others who may have had a similar experience.”

This peer to peer program will include art, crafts, physical activity and formal leadership learning. This program will also give an opportunity for high school students to earn hours toward graduation.

Already an SFU student is donating time to create a logo, and the teen and a group of her close peers are finalizing the details of the program.

“My niece’s goal is have a program package available for schools coming the fall 2014 with activities, program plans, resources, and an online platform for the girls,” said Loretta.

Individuals and organizations who would like to support Healing Our Hurting Hearts can make a charitable contribution through the Passion Foundation website at passionfoundation.org or at info@passionfoundation.org.

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