Click here to access Stuart Shanker's guest article: Expanding our Understanding of the Meaning of "Safe."

COMMUNITY: Through My Eyes Film Premiere

by David Rust, Director of Community Partnerships at Safe and Caring

While Alberta has benefited from extraordinary economic times, prosperity has not reached all citizens. The City of Edmonton is committed to addressing the issues of poverty and homelessness, shifting the focus from a charity model to one based on investment.

Through My Eyes​is a film and collaborative initiative created by 17 year old Rohan Nuttall and 19 year old Akash Sherman, about at-risk youth, and provides a street-level view of a social issue told from a unique perspective. The film was directed and produced by these two up-and-coming filmmakers with the consultation of City of Edmonton Youth Council, subject matter experts, homeless and at-risk youth and the public.

Through My Eyes offers honest insight into the realities of at-risk, homeless youth. The film profiles homeless and formerly-homeless youth, telling their stories in their own way, in their own words. It calls on all community individuals and organizations to be a part of the solution to eliminate youth poverty and homelessness by changing their way of thinking, and their connection to community.

Ultimately, Through My Eyes is the story of a city that must to look inside itself to solve a real, but not insurmountable, problem. In the end, it leaves audiences with a profound and inspiring call to action. These young people are homeless, not hopeless. What they need most is understanding, kindness and consideration – a hand up, not a handout.

Safe and Caring and David Rust, Director of Community Partnerships, are proud to be a part of this project, which aligns with the work of the Mayor’s Taskforce to Eliminate Poverty and the 10-year Plan to End Homelessness and is part of the City’s 30-year vision for Edmonton with a goal of ending chronic and youth homelessness by 2019.

Homelessness is a problem for all of us. Simply managing the problem is not a solution. Join us in the creative, compelling and timely journey to eliminate youth homelessness. This youth-created film will highlight the needs of vulnerable youth, and will launch an initiative to explore opportunities for future change.

Visit the City of Edmonton website to view the trailer and learn more about the film. Through My Eyes is set to release on November 17, 2014.​ ​Tickets to the film premiere are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Advance tickets can be reserved through Eventbrite starting October 14.

www.edmonton.ca/throughmyeyes

Thank you for your attention​ to this important message and call to action. Let’s begin to change tomorrow today for vulnerable young people in our communities!

FOCUS ON: What’s New in the Education Act

by Caroline Missal, MEd, Project Manager at Safe and Caring

Alberta’s new Education Act passed in the Legislature on December 10, 2012, and is expected to come into effect in time for the 2015/2016 school year.

Under the existing School Act, school boards must provide a safe and caring environment. The Education Act takes this a step further, providing a frame of reference for students, parents and boards to work together to create a “welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging.”

This shift towards a more proactive approach has a strong foundation in research and places an emphasis on creating and maintaining schools and classrooms that are welcoming and caring, where students feel they belong. Students learn best when they feel safe – emotionally, psychologically and physically.

The Education Act addresses and defines bullying, distinguishing it from other forms of conflict like teasing, rude or mean behaviour, and directs school boards to develop student codes of conduct that focus on building welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments. Punishment and ‘one size fits all’ policies are not effective at attaining long term change. Rather than listing inappropriate behaviours and fixed punishments, a shift towards ‘differentiated discipline’ – similar to ‘differentiated instruction’ – requires boards to address behaviour issues responsively and take into account the needs not only of students impacted by inappropriate behaviour, but also of those who engage in it.

The Education Act also recognizes that others have an important part to play in building safe and caring learning environments. Students have a responsibility to positively contribute to their school community, and to “refrain from, report and not tolerate bullying or bullying behaviour directed toward others in the school,” even when it occurs outside school grounds or hours. Parents have the responsibility to engage in and foster positive relationships within their child’s school community.

With these changes on the horizon, how ready are you? Your students? Your school? Your school board?

Safe and Caring, in partnership with Alberta Education, the Alberta School Boards Association and the Alberta Teachers’ Association, is creating a variety of resources to support teachers, school boards, students and parents as they navigate these new expectations.

This article appeared in our October 2014 News Bulletin. Click here to read the rest of the bulletin!

POEM: Once and Now by Nicole Mulligan

once and now pride centre image for blogNicole Mulligan, of the Pride Centre of Edmonton, submitted this poem to the Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities, to share in her personal journey and open up conversations about the value of the support of individuals and community working together to create safe, caring and inclusive spaces for all young people.

Once and Now

Once,

It made me want to lie down in the road

This life of mine

Now,

I know I know I can stand upon this land

With the grace of your hand.

CHAMPION PROFILE: Ian Hill of the Changing Point

Partner profile - Ian Hill pic

Ian Hill is a leadership development innovator and humanitarian with a passion for helping others. Drawing from his personal experiences as an adopted at-risk youth turned successful business leader, Ian has dedicated his professional and private life to building stronger and more vibrant communities.

Through his two major ventures, The Changing Point and the Becoming a Community Builder initiative, Ian delivers motivational training to inspire business, not-for-profit and government leaders to make positive changes in their lives and communities.

Motivation

In his professional community development work, Ian places a strong emphasis on engaging in hands-on grassroots efforts as a catalyst for broader social change. This perspective is directly informed by his own, on-the-ground efforts as founder and Volunteer Chairman of Let Them Be Kids, a Canada-wide not-for-profit organization that raises funds and volunteer support to build playgrounds, skateparks and fitness parks in areas of need. Through Let Them Be Kids, Ian has seen firsthand the powerful impact of a common goal – how a shared project can inspire increased community capacity, resilience and pride.

On a more personal level, Ian’s motivation also stems from overcoming his own challenges as an at-risk youth, as well as from seeing his kids and their peers facing new sets of challenges in school.

To date, Ian’s humanitarian efforts, philanthropy and programs have helped build safe and caring communities for children to grow into thriving citizens in over 100 Alberta communities.

“I believe every individual, every neighbourhood and community is one idea, one voice, one action – one person – away from being better tomorrow than it was yesterday. You can be that one person!” – Ian Hill

“Progress and change are indelibly intertwined; there can be no progress without change.”  Ian Hill

The Partnership

In support of Ian’s mission to give back to the community and inspire “positive change in the lives of individuals, workplaces, neighbourhoods and communities,” Ian and his team partner with local not-for-profits in each of the regions he delivers training.

Safe and Caring is thrilled to have been selected as Ian’s charity of choice for his Edmonton-based Leadership Boot Camp, scheduled for September 17-18 at the Business Link in downtown Edmonton. As Ian’s partner, Safe and Caring will participate in the training to learn more about applying Ian’s community building principles in our work, and will share in the proceeds of the event.

More about Ian

In recognition of his commitment to community building, Ian was named Humanitarian of the Year by the National Council for Community and Justice and the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. He has also been named an Alder Business Leader by Canadian business icon Harry Rosen, Child Advocate of the Year by Stand for Children and Youth Advocate of the Year by the NAACP. More recently, he was nominated for the Prime Minister’s Social Innovator of the Year Award.

If you are interested in learning more about Ian’s journey or the Changing Point Boot Camps taking place in Edmonton and other Alberta cities this fall, you can learn more and register online at http://www.thechangingpoint.com/index.php/bootcamp/.

CHAMPION PROFILE: Robert Belisle

Robert Belisle is a Professional Bodybuilder (IFBB Pro) with experience competing in the 212 and open class Pro shows, including the famous Joe Weider Olympia. At almost 50 years old, Robert has spent half of his life heavily involved in the sport. In addition to competing for over 25 years, he has helped train and motivate many other athletes. He places a strong emphasis on team building and mutual respect in the sport.

Robert with his daughter Calli.

Robert with his daughter Calli.

The Gift

As a well-known Professional Bodybuilder, Robert often attends amateur shows as a “guest poser” for entertainment midway through the event. He has guest posed for numerous local shows over the years, and was again honoured to be asked this year to guest pose for an event held by the Alberta Bodybuilding Association.

In lieu of payment, Robert asked the Association to donate his $2,000 fee to the Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities.

Motivation

As a young child, Robert suffered being bullied – a lot. After years of harassment, he made the decision to take charge of his life, go to the gym and get strong. Although working out started as a way of fighting back, it soon turned into a lifelong passion for bodybuilding, giving him the strength and confidence to stand up to bullying without fighting.

As a professional body builder, Robert has worked hard to gain strength and stand up for his beliefs, and to inspire others to do so as well.

As a professional body builder, Robert has worked hard to gain strength and stand up for his beliefs, and to inspire others to do so as well.

Unfortunately, there remains a lot of adult bullying within the bodybuilding industry; however, Robert continues to take a stand. After his most recent performance, he made a speech asking everyone to be kind to one another and support their fellow athletes. His closing line was: “It starts with the adults. We need to be role models so that this bullying STOPS.”

He donated the proceeds from his performance to Safe and Caring because he recognizes the great need for education and support around the topic of bullying. Robert wants to “give back to the community” and help other children and youth feel safe and included in their schools.

More About Robert

Other charitable organizations that Robert has donated to include the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, as well as the Edmonton Family Violence Centre. He and his wife Asha also actively support the Alberta Bodybuilding Association, a not-for-profit organization that hosts amateur-level shows throughout the year to help emerging athletes qualify to compete at a National Level.

Goofing around on Halloween with Calli.

Goofing around on Halloween with Calli.

Thank you Robert Belisle for your generous support of the Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities!

COMMUNITY: Recapping #Care4U

Our collective voice and collective action can make a difference!

May 5-11 2014 marked Mental Health Awareness Week. Many different, provincial and national organizations came together to share an important message:

Mental Health Matters.

We were thrilled with the response to this year’s initiative. From interviews with local news and radio stations, to events attended by Alberta’s Premier, this week’s focus earned some amazing momentum.

#Care4u caught on quickly and soon hundreds of twitter and facebook followers were sharing their stories and photos relating to mental health.

On Tuesday, May 6thwe asked adults who work with kids to take a minute to watch a video and discuss over a cup of coffee.  On Wednesday, May 7thAlberta schools and communities came together and put “Hats on for Mental Health.” We saw some great photos posted on #care4u including a photo of His Honour, Col. (Ret’d) Donald S. Ethell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta wearing a hat and the “Mental Health Matters” pin. We asked families to join in on “Family Hour” on Thursday, May 8thinvest an hour to support positive mental health in their family by taking a walk, playing a game and finding opportunities to spend quality time together.

The week also saw plenty of other provincial events going on!

Students and families in Edmonton’s Mill Woods joined The Way In Team for an Aboriginal Family Hour on Monday May 5th in celebration of Mental Health Awareness Week.  The night was about spending time with family and coming together as a community to support mind wellness which is fostered by the traditions of Aboriginal peoples. Premier Hancock and Edmonton Public School Superintendent Darrel Robertson attended this event and enjoyed a round dance with other attendees.

10175079_823512084345445_3460188945113404658_n

Premier Hancock at The Way In Celebration

10301302_823512077678779_368291030751444882_n

Premier Hancock and Guests at The Way In Celebration

To celebrate Hats on for Mental Health, students at St. Albert’s Ecole Muriel Martin performed a song and read short texts they prepared about mental health.  Of course, they also wore the hats they created!

Whitecourt Central School students made a splash wearing their sea of green in the downtown core of Whitecourt on May 7th to celebrate Child & Youth Mental Health Day. Escorted by Constable Penney of the Whitecourt RCMP, students and staff participated in a Hatsquerade to show that they care about those affected by mental illness. Whitecourt Mayor Maryann Chichak and Woodlands County Mayor Jim Renney chatted with students about the importance of positive mental health and supporting each other before joining students in the Hatsquerade parade.

photo 2

Hatsquerade in downtown Whitecourt

ESPO’art celebration took place on the evening of May 7that the City Francophone in Edmonton. There was a short program which included an opportunity for families to create art together. It was an exploration of hope and wellbeing through artistic exploration and expression; a celebration of visual art; an opportunity to get people together to share and to celebrate the positive images of hope through a community art event. The event raised funds through a silent auction of the art that will support the Bah family, a francophone family that experienced a tragedy in February.

 

The Second Annual Jasper Place STAR Mental Health Fair took place on Thursday, May 8th at Edmonton’s Jasper Place High School. A number of our partners were able to attend this event and the photos definitely show their enthusiasm.

Mental Health Awareness Week Partners have fun at Jasper Place Mental Health Fair

Mental Health Awareness Week Partners have fun at Jasper Place Mental Health Fair

Lac La Biche and area families were encouraged to spend an hour of quality time together on May and approximately 100 people gladly took the invitation from Northern Lights School Division’s  Successful Families – Successful Kids (MHCB), and Out of School Care Programs.

Event organizers turned a portion of the Lac La Biche Kinsmen Grounds into a family-friendly fun zone, complete with a mental health-themed scavenger hunt, a supper around the campfire, and lots of running, playing and laughing.

The feedback has been positive from many of the 100 people who took part in the event that saw parents arriving at the party to join their children who had been bussed to the grounds directly from school.

lac la biche2 lac la biche

We are so pleased that our mandate for the events and activities achieved the goal of helping to raise awareness about Mental Health and healthy relationships. Adults who support and recognize the importance of healthy relationships can have a significant impact on the children and youth in their community. Just like physical health, everybody has mental health.

Good mental health is not merely the absence of mental health problems. People who are mentally healthy build and maintain healthy relationships, they are resilient and can easily adapt to change, they have balance in their lives and better self-confidence. Emotionally healthy children and youth are more likely to be successful in school and life.

We are looking forward to celebrating this week again in 2015!

GUEST POST: One School’s Story about Creating Healthy and Meaningful Relationships

Guest Post by: Nancy Metcalf, Jasper Place High School

High school can be a place where students just want to fit in.  To let differences be known and access the strength that comes from our differences can feel risky and unsafe. The guardedness that results leads to feelings of isolation and being unable to find our true commonalities.  At Edmonton’s  Jasper Place High School, through Celebrating Aboriginal Culture and supporting First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) students, the school has uncovered strong youth leaders, common values and affirmation that differences are not to be hidden but celebrated.

On May 1st, The Leading Spirits hosted a pow wow round dance.  Students of many cultures from elementary, junior high and high schools shared the experience of holding hands and dancing together.  They learned about aboriginal culture, values, and beliefs from their peers and elders. Our common bond to the earth that nurtures us and common experience of our mother’s heart beat in the womb and the beat of the drum united us.  The Leading Spirits is one of the key student groups that sit on the school’s STAR program’s advisory committee and welcomes all students, regardless of their cultural heritage, to join their group.

The surplus of confidence and belonging that exists in the Leading Spirits has led, naturally , to reaching out to help all students in Japer Place belong and benefit from aboriginal culture.  The Leading Spirits have shared their surplus in many ways throughout the year. The Day of Pink was hosted by students from the Gay Straight Alliance and the Leading Spirits.  Students who took a stand with the GSA and Leading Spirits, against intolerance and bullying by wearing pink were rewarded with a package to make a s’more with the message “we need s’more people like you.”  The Global Café, a student led, enrichment club, collaborated with the Leading Spirits in an aboriginal movie night.  The Leading Spirits have a fun engaging station to promote mental health at the annual mental health fair.   Leading Spirit members also welcomed grade 9s transitioning to Jasper Place by making beaded key chains with them in the leadership sessions.  Aboriginal motivational speakers have inspired all students and thanks to the Leading Spirits of the past, students can take Aboriginal Studies at Jasper Place.  Jasper Place strives to be a school where differences do not mean exclusion and isolation.   The Leading Spirits are proof that, when supported, diversity can mean strength and an opportunity to create connection and enrich school culture.

GUEST POST: Calling All Student Leaders!

Guest Post by: the Alberta Education Speak Out Team

Speak_Out_Logo_sub_offAlberta Education recognizes that students have a valuable perspective when it comes to their education.  Speak Out – the Alberta Student Engagement Initiative is committed to supporting students and schools in increasing Alberta youth’s engagement in their education and improving student learning experiences, both at the local and provincial levels.

Through the Minister’s Student Advisory Council (MSAC), students can get involved in decision making, connect with other students, grow as a leader and become the student voice in their community.  As ambassadors of Speak Out students will share their voice collaboratively alongside all education partners, including teachers, principals, superintendents and government staff, to enhance the education system.

The MSAC consists of 24 to 30 youth between the ages of 14 and 19 years old.  Council members are selected based on a diversity of backgrounds, opinions, experiences and every attempt is made to have representation from each zone.  Check out what these students had to say about their involvement in “Why I Do It”.

Help promote this provincial initiative by sharing this information with your school leadership and with youth in your school and community. Applications for the 2014-2015 MSAC are currently being accepted, the deadline is Friday, May 30, 2014 at 4:30 pm.  A complete application needs to include a completed consent form which can be submittedby email, mail or fax.

For additional information about MSAC or Speak Out, please visit the Speak Out website or contact the Speak Out Team at speakout@gov.ab.ca.

GUEST POST: First Peoples Child and Family Review seeking poems, artwork and letters from Canada’s children and youth

Guest Post by: Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research

This unique issue seeks to mobilize knowledge about the health and well-being of First Nations young people in Canada, from the perspective of children and youth. It provides an opportunity for young people across the country to share what they have learned about contemporary issues affecting First Nations communities, as well as personal experiences and ideas for change.

Providing opportunities for children and youth to express themselves and have a say in matters that affect them is a key principle under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children and youth, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, from across the country are invited to submit a letter, a poem, a one-page drawing or a two-page essay on one or more of the following topics:

  • Explain how the inequities/inequalities in child welfare, education and health on-reserve affect First Nations children and young people.
  • Explain what equity/equality and/or reconciliation means to you, and why it is important.
  • Explain why First Nations cultures and languages are important to children and youth.
  • Share ideas on what can be done to fix the inequities/inequalities and make a better Canada for all.

Submissions will be reviewed by a committee of children and youth who will decide on final submissions to appear in this special edition.

Please note: submissions, including artwork, will not be returned. Young people under 18 years old will need permission from a guardian to have work published. Provide guardian contact information in the registration form attached below.

The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society is thrilled to partner with the Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research to present a special child and youth edition of the First Peoples Child and Family Review.


Click here to access the overview and registration form.

COMMUNITY: Centre High & Safe and Caring

What are basic human rights? How do students’ cultural backgrounds impact their sense of  belonging at school and with their peers?

Students from Edmonton’s Centre High campus, in collaboration with Safe and Caring, are exploring this issue  by participating in the youth action project “Violence and Bullying Prevention Through Human Rights Education.” Funded by the Alberta Human Rights Multiculturalism Fund, this project provides students with the opportunity to be actively involved in identifying human rights issues within their school and developing a project to address bullying, violence and promote healthy and respectful relationships. It is hoped that through this project students will develop a greater respect for different backgrounds and experiences, an understanding of their own basic rights, and cultivate the necessary communication and leadership skills to put their own world-changing ideas into action.

The head of the Social Studies Department at Centre High says this project “provides students with the ability to become active citizens and practical instruments of change.  It gives them an opportunity to become leaders in their school community and hopefully inspire them to continue in their post-secondary institutions as critical thinkers and community minded individuals.”

Centre High Human Rights Taem

The Centre High Human Rights Team