This year has started out strong here at Ever Active Schools!
Every year, we host events specific to helping school communities increase their capacity for wellness. Some events are specific to youth, as students as change agents is an essential condition for comprehensive school health; while others take a broader approach, looping in teachers, administrators, district leaders, government and community partners.
We kicked off our 2021 events with ᓰᐱᐦᑭᓯᐤ Still I Rise, a one-day virtual event for youth in grades 7-12. This event focused on positive mental health and well-being, aiming to provide students with skills and understanding to develop resiliency. A must for our current place in time.
More than 1,100 youth registered for Still I Rise, blowing our expectations out of the water! With the support of their schools, many were able to earn a credit towards graduation for attending.
Highlights of the day included:
- Opening the day was Elder Flora Northwest, who shared words of wisdom and prayer.
- In the breakout sessions, Evans Yellow Old Woman helped students to feel motivated to tend to and to nurture their personal wellness.
- Alicia Cardinal shared her messages of practicing gratitude, personal planning and positive affirmations.
- Devin Buffalo shared his story of resilience in sport, even amidst racism and struggle.
- Rilee Manybears and Lannie Houle inspired students to follow their passions and prioritize their wellness.
- To close the day, Joe Dion Buffalo shared his story of revival, from the shadows of Residential Schools to sobriety and a thriving career doing what he loves.
- The Alberta Medical Association Youth Run Club challenged the students to think about ways they can increase their personal wellness and track their wellness activities for nine days.
Our friends at Alberta Blue Cross help make these kinds of youth-focused days a reality, thanks to their dedication to Alberta’s youth. Much like Ever Active Schools, Alberta Blue Cross envisions an equitable world where all youth belong to healthy school communities and have access to wellness education.
Still I Rise was just a teaser for our upcoming Resiliency Summit, taking place May 3 and 4! The Resiliency Summit is a gathering of Indigenous youth, educators and community members to share activities and celebrate stories and practices around health, wellness and resilience. While we’ve shifted to a virtual event this year, there will still be opportunities for participants to work closely with their school teams on the first day of the event with some lead up activities. The second day will see participants attending sessions, listening to speakers and connecting with their peers across the province.
Closing out our January events was Shaping the Future, the annual comprehensive school health conference for beginners to experts.
In a normal year, we would be hosting Shaping the Future in a beautiful mountain location (we miss you Lake Louise!) We know how many people look forward to this conference every year, us included, so we knew it had to happen one way or another. Cue the virtual event!
A big hit with this year’s conference was the availability of 50+ pre-recorded sessions. These were made available for registered participants to watch on-demand – knowing how appreciated this was, we might have to look at some options for when we’re back in person! Many remarked on how many more connections they were able to make through the conference app – with the barriers of live social interactions removed, such as timing and physical presence, many more were able to jump into conversations even hours after they had begun.
Our delegates were dazzled by our live workshops – how could you not be with sessions featuring therapeutic arts, student activism, teacher well-being, and risky learning. And let’s not forget our incredible keynote speaker! Shelley Moore of Five Moore Minutes debunked the myth that inclusion is more work, enlightening delegates on how it is simply different work. Shelley, and all of our presenters, provided excellent strategies for delegates to put into practice first thing Monday morning. What good is professional learning if you can’t apply what you’ve learned?
All in all, despite the obvious variance of this year’s events from those past, we are incredibly proud of how our year started! Thank you to all of our delegates, presenters, sponsors and friends for making these events not only possible, but successful.
As per one delegate’s observation, “Shaping the Future is the best conference, and next year will be the biggest party!”