March 2016

In January 2016, Canada welcomed thousands of refugee families from war-torn countries overseas. The Canadian Safe School Network felt strongly about this issue, and sought to do our part to help. The Send Support campaign was launched in January with the goal of supporting refugee children starting school in Canada for the first time.

Supporting school-aged children is no new task for us. For 20 years we have created safe and welcoming environments in Canada, but this was a special case. A new school, new friends, a new classroom can be a stressful experience for any child. Imagine not knowing the language, culture and curriculum.

It became our goal to ensure that upon arrival at a new school, every child felt comfortable, accepted and treated with kindness by their peers, and school community.

Our send support campaign saw over 250 students from schools across the country receive packages of school supplies and educational resources. In addition, every package contained certificates for free tutoring services offered by GradeSlam tutoring. The packages were assembled and sent out to students in 3 age divided categories. IMG_5843

In addition to the support packages, we developed a comprehensive resource page on our website to help educators welcome refugee students to their classrooms. The resources contains:

  • Strategies for improving refugee parent involvement
  • Strategies for overcoming language barriers
  • Strategies for creating welcoming environments
  • Strategies for discussing the issues (Syria, Refugee Crisis) with your classroom at large

We are proud to have undergone this initiative and we wish all students and educators the very best in developing inclusive learning environments as Canada continues to support those in need!

A special thanks to Amp Solar Energy Group, GradeSlam Tutoring and Education Station for supporting this initiative.

A big thanks to author Sheri Lynn Fishbach for contributing copies of her book, “Dex” to our refugee Sheri Lynn picstudent support package initiative. Sheri Lynn Fishbach is a New York-based freelance writer and editor who holds an MA in Education from Brooklyn College and has contributed to local, regional, and national publications including Gannett’s the Journal News, Psychology Tomorrow, the Jewish Reporter, Steppin’ Out, and the New York Times network of newspapers. A staunch advocate for education and intercultural exchange, Sheri is delighted to work with the Canadian Safe School Network in helping Syrian refugees adapt to their new lives in Canada. Find Sheri on Facebook @

Dex Jacket ed.fwMeet Dex Rossi. He’s a gawky, lovesick middle-school entrepreneur and amateur chef who runs a gourmet lunch stand from his front lawn. In love with a girl whose boyfriends are jocks, he hopes to earn enough money to buy a gym system that will help him bulk up and win her heart. But while he serves up his locally famous food, his profits come to serve another purpose. He discovers that his grandmother’s restaurant is in financial ruin, and to save it, he must cook up a quick plan! With the help of Alicia, his filmmaking older sister, and a host of great friends, Dex kicks his business into high gear. As word of his talent spreads like peanut butter, an unlikely windfall comes his way. Dex lands his own TV cooking show on the famous Eatz network! But just when he thinks he’s got his problems licked, Dex finds himself going head to head with a scheming, hard-boiled associate with a secret he has kept closely guarded. Dex learns that when your dreams are on the chopping block, finding the right ingredients is the best recipe for success.

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On Saturday March 12, The Canadian Safe School Network, launched the first of our 4-city series of Hackathon events.

The BullyStop Cyberbullying Hackathon has 3 goals:

1.Create awareness around bullying and cyberbullying.

2.Engage youth in a discussion on the most relevant issues surrounding bullying and social technology.

3.Develop a unique and innovative digital solution to help combat cyberbullying.

In Vancouver this weekend a team of experts engaged in conversation about the issues pertaining to cyberbullying and youth. How do youth use social media? How does it affect their well-being and mental health? What policies are currently in place at school to help prevent cyberbullying?

Overwhelmingly, all participants believed that when it comes to online technologies, it’s adults who need educating. We learned that top down approaches are not the answer to help educators and parents alike deal with cyberbullying. Instead, we need to turn to students. Young people are way ahead of the curve when it comes to social media and online communication. As such, educators and parents should engage in conversation with youth about the issues.

We we’re pleased to have Carol Todd, of the Amanda Todd Legacy Society join us and provide insight and exceptional knowledge on the matter.

The afternoon portion of the day consisted of conceptualizing creative and engaging iOS apps that can help!

Coverage of the Vancouver event can be found here:

Coming up, we take this event to Toronto, Calgary and Halifax. As we host the events in more Canadian cities we hope to expand on the discussion, and build more creative app concepts!

In the coming months following the BullyStop Hackathon series CSSN will work to turn one of the creative concepts into a functioning app to benefit educators, parents and students.

Special thanks to our presenting sponsor Lighthouse Labs. Our supporting sponsor TELUS WISE, and to Instant Imprints, Panago Pizza and Blenz for their donations and support!

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PRESS Release
Attention: Assignment /Education/Crime Editor
For Immediate Release
12 March 2016

Breaking the </code> of silence: Youth speak out against cyberbullying at the BullyStop Hackathon

VANCOUVER – What’s a parent to do when the hardships that were once restricted to the school yard such as bullying and name calling, come creeping into the house, scurry down the hall and are sitting next to your child on a screen while they try to do their homework?

The reality is, for most parents (and teachers), children are going to know more about smartphones and apps before you have a chance to learn how to pronounce them. This makes combatting issues like cyberbullying incredibly difficult.

For this reason, The Canadian Safe School Network (CSSN) is turning to the experts. We’re inviting high school students to partake in a series of hackathons focused on putting an end to cyberbullying. The BullyStop Hackathon, presented by Lighthouse Labs and sponsored by TELUS WISE, is a full day interactive event inviting engaged students to discuss social media, technology, and help put an end to cyberbullying. Groups of youth will work alongside tech experts, educators and law enforcement to brainstorm and build solutions in the form of iOS apps. Students will learn about computer coding for iOS, how to storyboard their ideas, and how to develop a concept ready for market.

This ground-up approach to delivering youth designed digital solutions comes shortly after Premier Christy Clark announced that BC will introduce computer coding in the provincial school curriculum. “Every kindergarten to grade 12 student will have…the opportunity to learn the basics of coding,” She stated at the BC Tech Summit in January 2016. The new B.C. coding curriculum (along with many other new curriculum amendments) is currently being developed and will be introduced over the next three years. We believe that this is an important event, not simply to help eradicate cyberbullying, but to encourage youth to enhance their digital literacy and create positive change in a fun and engaged way.

This series of events is being held in 4 Canadian cities in the coming months. The Vancouver event will launch the series and be held in downtown Vancouver on Saturday March 12, 2016 at Lighthouse Labs, 128 W Hastings St #300, Vancouver, BC V6B 1G9. More information can be found online: Participants at this event include Ms. Carol Todd founder of the Amanda Todd Legacy Society, Superintendents from the VSB, and members of local law enforcement. There are still limited student spots available. Help us to fill this event by passing this information to any students interested in social justice, youth engagement, leadership, social media or technology. No coding experience necessary!

Media inquiries may be directed to:
Renee Goncalves
Canadian Safe Schools Network
778.877.9525 (on-site)

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On Friday, February 26th, educators and professionals in the field of education gathered in Toronto for a full day, interactive conference on Safe Schools. The Canadian Safe School Network is extremely proud to have hosted the 19th Annual Safe Schools Conference: A Focus on Student Wellness. We would like to thank all of those who made the event possible including our planning committee, volunteers, speakers, and of course the delegates who joined us. It is clear from the widespread participation in the event that educators across Ontario are committed to enhancing the safety and wellbeing of their schools and communities.

We were truly fortunate to have had Bill Byrd, Safe Schools Administrator for the Toronto District School Board offer inspiring remarks about wellness and introduce our keynote, Angela Gauthier, Director of Education for the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Ms. Gauthier presented an in-depth review of the TCDSB’s commitment to student wellbeing and achievement as supported by the comprehensive Mental Health Strategy. The importance of community building and positive school climate were highlighted as being essential to the health and success of students, and Ms. Gauthier urged a “call to action” in which educators must work to promote the mental health and wellness of all students.

In the student stream, Jason Colero of the Toronto Argonauts’ Huddle UP program kicked off the day by sharing his personal story and discussing the potential effects that bullying can have on mental health. Students reflected on their own stories and were left with the important message that you can turn your experiences into a positive no matter what they are.

As the day progressed, our delegates attended a variety of workshops that emphasized the importance of mental health and wellness. Some of the topics that were addressed included: LGBTQ and transgender support, peace education, digital citizenship, student engagement and student allies, diversity and inclusion and the revised health and physical education curriculum. Others focused on resilience and self-regulation, alternative and human rights programming, teen sexual assault, restorative practices, body-based bullying, effective teambuilding and much more. In the student stream, workshops focused on inclusive schools, community activism, movement, and leadership skills.

Prior to our second plenary session, the Canadian Safe School Network/TD Award for Excellence Against LGBTQ Youth Bullying was presented to South Huron High School’s Gender-Sexuality Alliance. The school received the award for demonstrating excellence in the development, creation or promotion of an in-school initiative to counter LGBTQ bullying. Conference delegates cheered to honor the group’s fine and significant accomplishment.

Our second keynote address was given by Dr. Garfield Gini-Newman, national senior consultant with The Critical Thinking Consortium and associate professor at OISE, University of Toronto. In his captivating presentation on critical thinking and safe schools, Dr. Gini-Newman explained the 5 key principals that underpin a “thinking classroom” and explored the central role that creating a community of thinkers plays in implementing those principals. Delegates reflected on their own practices and were asked to critically consider strategies to help create a safe and caring school environment.

In the student stream, the day ended with a reflective workshop presented by Dianne Banasco of the TCDSB in which students engaged in mindfulness practices. We are extremely impressed by the level of enthusiasm and commitment to wellness that students brought to the event.

We are very pleased to have had such an excellent group of presenters, keynote speakers, and exhibitors. Thank you to everyone who joined us!

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