Congratulations to all of our 2013 HEROES of a Safe and Caring World. Read more about each of our honourees below!
Taegen Domstad is a grade seven student in Airdrie. In grade 4 Taegen launched something she called “Friendship Finders”. This program encourages pairs of students to go out at lunch and recess to look for students who are alone and invite them to play. The inspiration behind this program came from Taegen witnessing a student alone, crying at recess. Taegen soon discovered the other young student had no one to play with, and offered to be her friend. Taegen began to notice and find ways to include other students who appeared lonely or on the margins. Other classmates eventually got involved and when Taegen moved to Ralph McCall School so did her idea of Friendship Finders. Now through Taegen’s public speaking efforts, Friendship Finders has found its way to other schools as far away as Nigeria. Taegen was nominated by Desiree Bibby, a Child Development Advisor from Airdrie who stated … “Taegen is a compassionate, loving and inspirational young woman whose strength and noble character shines incredibly bright.”
At the young age of nine, Wren Kauffman “came out” as a transgender child to his family. While biologically born a female, Wren has identified as a boy from as early as he can remember. Wren, now 11 and attending Edmonton’s Victoria School for the Arts, has overcome great adversity and discrimination and has dedicated his life to educating others – including friends, family, teachers and communities. Wren has even co-taught lessons on gender identity to his fellow students. Writes his nominators, Victoria School Principal, Tami Dowler-Coltman, and the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services’ Dr. Kris Wells, Wren is a leader and mentor whose bravery, courage and strength has inspired and given hope to other children and families experiencing the same adversity. Wren’s remarkable story has been featured throughout the nation on CBC’s “The Current” as well as in city newspapers. His story has even captured the attention of the world making headlines in both Australia and the United Kingdom. Wren lives out the Safe and Caring philosophy of promoting dignity and respect while fostering the importance of diversity, inclusion and social justice in our schools and communities.
BUILDING ASSETS AND MEMORIES
Building Assets and Memories, better known as BAM, is a non-profit youth organization, that strives to promote asset development in young people. This “youth for youth” organization is based on the 40 Developmental Assets; everything done for youth is done by youth. This program has the support of the RCMP and their nominators, the City of St Albert. Over one hundred youth volunteers have put in over 5000 hours this calendar year alone. They have been involved in a multitude of events including one-on-one mentoring, events for seniors, Clean Up the Sturgeon as well as Youth Retreats. Additionally, BAM promotes self-discovery in youth by mentoring in local schools, promoting leadership skills and team building. BAM is currently developing a program structured to give youth the opportunity to be introduced to various activities at no cost. They believe that money should not be something that stops youth from pursuing passions or trying new things.
THE COMMAND SISTERS
Sarah and Charlotte Command, also known as The Command Sisters, are not only talented songwriters and musicians, they are also becoming known as leaders and role models for other youth, working tirelessly to make a difference in their community and across the province. These incredible young women have supported the Stollery Children’s Hospital, the YWCA and now the Kids Help Phone who nominated them for this award. Charlotte and Sarah recently spent over 8 months developing a song, and music video and worked with the RCMP to provide a school DVD to educate youth on the issue of bullying and how everyone can join in, stand up and make a difference. They have taken their song and their passion, together with this DVD, to schools around the province. The response they received has been both positive and overwhelming as they engage in conversations with other young people about the impact of bullying and what can be done to create more caring spaces and relationships. Their song, Something to Live For, has ignited conversations and opened hearts and is in support of their nominator, the Kids Help Phone.
OSKI PASIKONIWEW KAMIK SCHOOL
Oski Pasikoniwew Kamik School, or OPK is a school located in Wabasca in northern Alberta dedicated to providing the best environment for students, parents and staff. It is a multicultural school which supports and recognizes diversity. Under the leadership of principal, CHRISTINE GULLION, students have been taught to greet visitors by shaking hands and giving a Cree greeting, “Tansi” and participate in annual cultural awareness weeks and activities. OPK works in conjunction with a variety of programs that promote healthy, respectful learning environments and active living. The students learn to be independent both in the classroom and community. Students and staff at OPK run a community food bank which helps teach students the virtue of generosity and caring. They host celebrations honouring their parents and grandparents, and provide a number of comprehensive programs that promote healthy relationships and prevent bullying. In his nomination letter, Big Stone Cree Nation Counsellor Winston Manossa, writes… “Christine, and her staff have worked tirelessly to make OPK a welcoming, caring, respectful, and safe environment for all students, staff, families and community partners.”
ASSOCIATION DES JURISTS D’EXPRESSION FRANCAIS DE L’ALBERTA
Association des jurists d’expression française de l’Alberta, or AJEFA, sponsored and supported the production of a play to prevent bullying and build healthy, respectful relationships in 17 francophone schools across the province. In addition, AJEFA, in collaboration with two other organizations and three school boards implemented the program Vers le Pacifique (A Peace Path Program) in these francophone schools. This is a conflict resolution program for youth that hopes to prevent violence by promoting peaceful behaviours. This peaceful conflict resolution program teaches students how to resolve their interpersonal conflicts peacefully. Students are supported to express their emotions, develop empathy and resiliency and learn the importance of taking responsibility of their own actions and how to solve conflicts peacefully and respectfully. AJEFA demonstrates the important role community partners play in building safe and caring environments for children and youth.