A Toxic Playground of Inspiration and Bravery

By Melanie Gordon

Active imaginations of children can have them fearing the boogieman in the closet, a monster under the bed or a bully at the playground, but for a young girl growing up in a toxic environment of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, Elizabeth Correia’s childhood playground filled with violence, drugs, prostitutes and perverts, was both a danger zone and safety zone for a vulnerable girl.

No stranger to obstacles and adversity, Elizabeth Correia’s resilience and courage to survive numerous foster homes, witnessing murder, life on the streets, domestic violence and a recent brain tumor, have led her to many notable achievements. Elizabeth’s enlightening spirit and determination to live life with a purpose shines through with her love for her two sons, the ten foster children she’s cared for, her baby sister, her community and God. As the founder of D.e.v.a Event Coordinating, Toronto Homeless – Project Blanket, motivational speaker, recent author of If You Played In My Playground, and an active participant in UNIQUE (a program empowering young women), Elizabeth continues to engage her community and find peace in her life despite her stolen childhood.

“I founded D.e.v.a to support women through the pain I once felt, and provide hope that life is always worth living. Through workshops, seminars, and ladies retreats, women experience their inner D.e.v.a (divine, exalted, victorious, angelic), which is how every woman should feel,” says Elizabeth.

The Toronto homeless project is one that Elizabeth Correia holds dear to her heart. After all, it was the streets of Toronto where she first experienced love through a young man’s gentle kindness to help her off the streets. After dating for one year, he sadly died in her arms after she witnessed his murder. Elizabeth continues visiting the homeless to restore dignity in their lives by providing hope, love, food and warmth through community donations. She remains highly engaged in a program designed to empower young women to live life with purpose, follow their dreams, and become tomorrow’s leaders. “The homeless project is like my baby. I see such soul in the eyes of these people, and it inspires me to help,” says Elizabeth.

“I found strength in God, and knew I had to keep living. My children need me, and my life is just beginning.”

December 2011, Elizabeth was rushed to hospital from a stream of repetitive seizures she had never experienced before. Upon arrival at the hospital she was informed of the hemorrhaging brain tumor that would require immediate surgery. The chance for survival was not promising. Although scared and panicked, Elizabeth turned to her faith in God. Continuing to pray that he be with her and bring her back safely to her children, her operation proved successful. After receiving 38 stitches and ten days of hospital care, Elizabeth’s friendly smile, empowering voice and positive attitude were signs of relief for her friends and family. “I found strength in God, and knew I had to keep living. My children need me, and my life is just beginning. I need to share my story and create awareness about the effects of abuse. We need to provide a voice for those who don’t have one,” says Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s book If You Played In My Playground is a story of a young Portuguese woman navigating the ghetto of Toronto. As a child burdened with dark secrets who dreams of ways to break free from the lies and violence bestowed upon her, Elizabeth engages the reader through her heartbreaking journey and courage to survive these toxic conditions. “The book has been a cathartic and cleansing experience for me,” says Elizabeth.

For many, her story is difficult to hear; to Elizabeth, it’s a story that needs to be shared.

About The Author
Melanie Gordon has a love affair with words and a genuine interest in her community have led her to fulfill a career in public relations. As a Communication Specialist, mother of two, a volunteer in areas of restorative justice, and student, Melanie strives to gain an understanding of herself and others through open and honest communication.

Her inquiring mind, storytelling skills, and ability to step into the shoes of a client, allow her to creatively communicate a message to inspire readers and listeners. With a previous background in building management, Melanie has learned to create an effective time management system to juggle multiple projects at once.

Melanie’s passion for travel and culture aspire her to someday volunteer in Africa, and share her public relation talents internationally.

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