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We are pleased to announce our first fundraiser for 2018, in conjunction with Toronto Musical Concerts, is scheduled for March 16th  and 17th starting 7:30pm at Eastminster United Church (310 Danforth Avenue)

Proceeds from March 16th will go to fulfilling CSSN’s mandate to reduce youth violence in schools and communities, as well as increase youth safety, empowerment, and well-being. It endeavors to achieve these goals by delivering a variety of targeted programs such as workshops and coaching for students, teachers, and administrators. We also provide programs in regard to youth empowerment and leadership. A few of CSSN’s programs include Cyberbullying Hackathons, LGBTQ Think Tanks, and SHE leadership programs. CSSN receives no government funding and we can only achieve our goals through fund-raising activities such as the exciting one we have planned for March 16.

Toronto Musical Concerts (TMC) is a dynamic, not-for-profit, professional musical theatre collective. Our mandate includes a commitment to the artistry of musical theatre: presenting high-quality and entertaining concert productions; producing cutting-edge works; developing emerging talents and new audiences, and providing educational opportunities and community outreach through the performing arts.

The event is the funny and witty musical comedy Company, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth. The original production was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won six. It was among the first musicals to deal with adult themes and relationships. The cost for this very entertaining evening is a real steal- just $25.00.

COMPANY In Concert features professional musical theatre talents: Kevin Achiele (Paul); AJ Bridel (Marta); Lawrence Cotton (Larry); Donna Garner (Joanne); Ryan Kelly (David); Lisa Kisch (Jenny); Lizzie Kurtz (Amy); David Lopez (Peter); Marisa McIntyre (April); Anwyn Musico (Susan); Leah Oster (Kathy); Sarah Strange (Sarah); Geoffrey Tyler (Bobby); Christopher Wilson (Harry); and is musically directed by Scott Christian (piano).

Tickets: $25 (General Admission), $20 (Students / Seniors / Arts Workers)

Advance purchase: Click here to buy tickets!

Further information: 647-298-9338

 

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On February 24, 2017, educators from the GTA came together for our 20/20 Conference. Digital citizenship, diversity & inclusion, and health & wellness were all topics to be discussed through workshops and keynote speakers. The diverse topics were meant to create innovative ideas that can be brought back to classroom. Walking through each room established how interactive workshops can be building blocks to building safer schools and communities.

Jamie Mitchell led Workshop 1A How to Create 21st Century Classroom Norms. By showing how important it is to be digitally competent, educators discussed the importance of teaching students appropriate behaviour on the internet. As the world moves into a strong technological era, it is crucial that there is comprehensive understanding of the written and unspoken rules of the internet.

Ms. Lorraine Bailey-Wallace, Ms. Talcia Richards, and Ms. Nikki Silvera led Workshop 1D on Building Sustainability for Mental Health and Wellness in you school community. With the stigma surrounding mental health still working to be broken down in today’s society, the workshop intended to provide strategies and resources for educators to ensure the well-being of students at their schools. The initiatives will bring new insight to a previously ignored topic.

Aaron Cowan & Amy Yanover presented Workshop 1E on the Positive Spaces Day: Building School-Wide Inclusion & Empowerment. Bullying prevention strategies aim to build an inclusive environment that will empower students to reach their full potential. Sharing experiences and learning what works as opposed to what doesn’t is a good way to move forward.

Dean Barnes hosted Workshop 2A Supporting Student to be Healthy in Mind, Body, and Heart. This interactive workshop aimed to share positive experiences from the collaboration of students, staff, and parents on the topic of wellness. The implementation of Wellness Wednesday have made a huge impact on the school’s comprehensive approach to building a healthy mind, body, and heart.

Rebecca Katz presented Workshop 2C Lessons for Media Literacy and Digital Citizenship from Online Media Fandom. Fan communities have become an internet phenomena that foster creative fiction, art, and video. Art and ideas can be shared at a faster rate than ever before which means that we have to adapt to the possible consequences. Students must learn digital citizenship as part of their new curriculum.

Tina Vankuren hosted Workshop 2D The Therapeutic Benefits of Humour in Education. Humour is an important part of mental health and wellness. This workshop focused on getting educators to tap into their sense of humour in a way that will get students engaged. The comedy made it easy to have an interactive session where there was

Deb St. Amant facilitated Workshop 2E Joining the Circle: An Educator’s Toolkit to Support First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Students. By having the conversations about First Nations issues that affect students, educators are better able to assist them with resources. Pride, identity, and racism were discussed in the context of building relationships with First Nations students and family in order to have healthy schools

Alan Richardson & Sandra Crockard hosted Workshop 3 A Peer to Peer—An Initiative in Whole School Health & Wellness. This interactive workshop sought to show how student-led mental health and wellness programs can be implemented. Community engagement is essential to moving past mental health stigmas and the best way to do that is by having students make the connections in the community.

Christine Klaasen facilitated Workshop 3B Teenagers, How to Love Them In: applying a mindful, restorative approach to practice. Restorative practices were at the center of this workshop in terms of modifying the discipline model. In this workshop, the participants learned how to change their language to be more restorative as well as how to stay calm during tense moments in the classroom. Lastly, teachers were shown how to deal with the toughest students without the usual discipline.

Marbella Carlos hosted Workshop 3D Body-based Bullying, Social Media and Eating Disorders. Social pressures are difficult to escape especially because of the use of the constant use of social media which impacts the body image of youth. Through the interactive workshop, participants learned how to have these tough conversations with their students. Addressing body-based bullying makes it easier to ensure that all students celebrate physical diversity.

Linda Primier, Collette Chalmers, Bill Urwin, and Philip Popcock facilitated Workshop 3E Making the Spectrum Digital; Preparing ASD learners for the new workplace. The Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board created a program to help students with autism. They used iPad technology to help students build their own digital portfolios. The technology is also used to help student who have different learning styles.

As we have seen with all of the topics that were discussed, they are not easy to talk about which is why we need to create spaces that allow these dialogues. In addition to the workshops, the two keynote speakers– Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt and Dr. Ashleigh Molloy–brought the themes of the conference together. Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt shared her knowledge on promoting equality, mental health awareness, and anti-bullying resources. It is inevitable that there were many points that educators will be taking back to their schools and communities. She is an example of how personal experiences are important in helping to build your identity. Dr. Ashleigh Molloy was successful in engaging the crowd. His energy kept the crowd attentive and eager to participate as he delivered his message.

We can only grow if we communicate with each other and learn as a result. As education keeps moving forward and adapting to the 21st century, we all must learn to be part of the change. Recognizing the past needs in education in relation to the present and future needs are essential in becoming successful educators!

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The 20/20 Student Stream focused on digital citizenship, mental health & wellness, and diversity & inclusion. Students and speakers were encouraged to be engaged, ask questions, and share their thoughts on these matters that are becoming increasingly important in the education system. Their insight was helpful in creating a safe space where new ideas could be discussed without judgement.

The initial portion of the conference consisted of presentations on digital citizenship. Social media and its proper use was the center of the dialogue between the speakers and the students. Since we cannot avoid growing use of digital media, it is crucial that we learn how to use it effectively. We need to control it rather than let it control us. Caroline and Kimron made this message clear and students agreed that social media has become a part of their every day lives whether it is on their phones, tablets, or laptops.

The next theme of the conference was health & wellness. Jaqueline brought up chi gong as a new topic for the students to learn. She emphasized how it has helped her in mindfulness and then went on to guide the students to how it is practiced. The students were engaged by talking about how they deal with stress and later mentioned how relaxing the exercise was for them. Matt was the second speaker on health & wellness. His sense of humour was engaging for the students and he also had them move around and get to know each other. Throughout his presentation, he kept the students motivated and eager to listen for when he shared his personal stories.

After lunch, the students moved on to our diversity & inclusion workshops. Jason led the discussion by getting everyone pumped up and sharing stories with an anti-bullying message. He shared why he believes sports are essential in promoting inclusivity.

The Harmony Movement workshop led by Punita and Koryn gave the students activities that dealt with diversity and inclusion. They had insightful conversations about prejudice, stereotypes, and icebergs. Yes, icebergs. As Punita and Koryn mentioned, you can only see 10% of an iceberg while the other 90% is under water. The same goes for people. There are many things that we can see, but there is much more beneath that we don’t know unless they tell us. Their exercises were informative and interactive making it a great end to the conference.

Everyone who came to our conference made a difference. It was great to see students who wanted to participate and learn. These are the strong leaders we need to build safer schools and communities.

–“I can bring more information back to my school, for myself about mental, physical, and social awareness.”

–“This conference has taught me about many topics that I find are important in my life and I can apply info I have learned into my life.”

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SHE Leadership (Support Her Efforts)

On November 30th, Canadian Safe Schools conducted its very first SHE (support her efforts) Leadership event. What is the event all about? Well, when we were first planning SHE, we envisioned an event where SHEs could get inspired in order to focus on their inner attributes and validations above outer expectations and demands. However, by the end of the event we realized it was something bigger than that; SHE became a platform where youth were able to feel connected to one another, inspired, and motivated. SHE had become a nexus where all the girls, speakers, and teachers were able to celebrate their SHE hood. It was beautiful to see girls of all ages, backgrounds, and dispositions come together to find common experiences, and through that related to each other. We realized that by providing these girls a non-judgmental, trusting, and supporting space, they were able to unfold their hopes, experiences, believes, attitudes, goals, and beauties in front of everyone. Also, by doing so, they were able to feel more confident, inspired, and connected.final-poster-01

There are many contributing elements that made SHE what it was: our sponsors, TD, our supporters, M.A.C cosmetics and Panago Pizza, our wonderful speakers, and SHE Shares.

Our speakers were absolutely inspiring, raw, and, altogether, so phenomenal. They were successful women from diverse backgrounds and careers. Their broad diversity allowed every SHE to resonate with at least one speaker, if not all! Moreover, all the speakers gave a unique insight to SHE-hood by sharing their authentic experiences with the world. They touched topics related to confidence, love, goals, beauty, authenticity, patience, hard work, and believing in yourself. They were supportive role models and, all together, great human beings. If you wish to know more about our speakers please  click here

Lastly, according to the students, “SHE Shares” was the biggest hit of the day. SHE Shares was the part of the event where the kids could go up on stage and share an accomplishment. Something they overcame because they decided to be authentically themselves and believe in their own potential and self-worth. It resulted in tears, laughter, strength, connection, support, and encouragement. We saw a sort of resilience that we didn’t expect, we saw their strength, heard their stories, and got inspired. They showed how brave they were; they showed us the beauty of vulnerability, and most of all they showed us that they just need a space to express themselves, and once they have that, they will shine.

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On the 6th of October, Business owners, School Administrators, Policy Advisers, Lawyers, Deputy Chief, OACP youth committee and Educators, came together to discuss the different perspectives on the legalization of Marijuana. In a short time, big chances are coming to Canada! We realized that the mainstream dialogue on legalization somehow has not deeply discussed how this step m
ay affect youth safety and progress. Therefore, Canadian Safe Schools Network dedicated a whole day investigating how these changes may affect educators, students, and safe schools. In addition, we also discussed what steps law makers and educators have to take in order to successfully and safely conduct this major change-

We would like to thank all our speakers and delegates for coming together!
In order to fully understand an issue, one has to look it from all sides in all perspectives. So, thanks to our diverse and well informed speakers, we were able to exchange knowledge and insight from all sides!
If you did not attend our conference, do not worry, you have not missed out!! Our speakers were kind enough to post their presentations and thoughts

 

The M-Word conference description

Cannimed- Brent-Zettl

Nazlee Maghsoudi

Stephanie Young

Rebecca Jesseman

Judith Renaud Speech

 

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This August Mike Wilson of The Ultimate Leafs Fan  hosted the 3rd annual Night For Change. The annual event raises funds and awareness for the work we do with youth in and around bullying, and LQBTQ youth. We were so honoured to have in attendance Bobby Orr #4, Derek Sanderson, Rick Vaive,Phil Esposito and Flames’ captain Mark Giordano…. and of course the one and only Brian Burke. The event this year was a two parter with an intimate lunch with Mr. Orr and then our regular Night for Change event. We raised much needed funds to help launch 4 new programs in 2016/2017.

Not to be outdone this year Mike also surprised us with Tim Hicks a true Canadian country star!

Stay tuned for more exciting news and be sure to join us at our next event!

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The Canadian Safe School Network would like to give honourable mention to the following Safe Schools Story Book Contest submission.  Here is a beautiful story by Alex of Highland Creek P.S. Alex’s story about the importance of kindness teaches a lesson we can all learn from.  Thanks for sharing Alex! Keep up the great work!

The Commitment of Kindness

By Alex

DRINGGGG! The bell rang as Kai ran hastily towards his mother holding his teddy bear by the arm. Suddenly, he tripped on a crack and started to tumble. The bear flew out of Kai’s arm and into a puddle in front of him. Kai got up and retrieved his worn out teddy bear and started to walk towards his mother with a frown. “Are you okay, honey?” asked his mother as she took a glance at the teddy bear. “The teddy bear I’ve had for all my life just fell into a puddle and got ruined,” Kai muttered. “It’s okay, I’ll get you a new one,” his mother replied. They headed off to the teddy bear store. Kai still holding his teddy by the arm, he entered the store. “Welcome to Teddy Bear Land, my name is Tina and if you’re looking for anything specific or have any questions, feel free to ask,” said the young lady. “Sure,” his mother replied. “This bear can be customized to your liking and you can interact with it through an app on your smartphone,” said the lady. Kai snatched the bear off the shelf and asked his mother if he could get it. “This one is a bit pricey, how about we keep looking…” his mother replied. Strolling down the aisle they came across another bear that looked exactly like the one Kai had just grabbed, yet cheaper. “This one, I love this one, it’s perfect,” said Kai. Leaving the store with the teddy bear, all Kai could do was smile.

He bolted towards his room with the biggest smile on his face as he set the bear on his bed to change. Then suddenly a note appeared in the bear’s hand. Kai removed the note and read it, “In order to keep me you must perform one act of kindness a day for the next 7 years. If you are not able to complete this mission, I will disappear and you will never see me again, but if you choose to perform more than one act of kindness per day you will be granted a wish in the near future.” Kai looked frightened and knew if he didn’t start now, he would never see the bear again. He started by helping his mother with the dishes. Kai was an overachiever so he didn’t stop there. He then went out and shoveled the snow, not only his but also the neighbors next to him and their driveways were twice the size of his. Kai wasn’t tired yet so he kept on shoveling and shoveling, until eventually he shoveled all of the driveways on his street. He was so exhausted that he could barely walk back home, when he arrived at his door steps he noticed that the sun had already gone down and it was time for Kai to call it a day.

The boy continued this routine for the next 7 years and has never stopped smiling since. But the boy was no longer a boy any more. He was now 15 years old. It was a warm summer day as Kai got out of his bed and noticed that his bear had disappeared. He ran rapidly down the stairs looking everywhere, but had no luck. Then he made his way towards his parents’ room hoping that they had misplaced his teddy bear. Making his way towards his parents’ room he noticed a bright light coming out of his room that made him squint. He was so amazed and wanted to check it out. Approaching the door Kai noticed that the light seemed to dim down, so he raced into his room thinking that it was just the light shining through his window but it wasn’t. It was an oval shaped hole in the wall that looked like a portal. The hole started to get brighter and smaller. Thinking that it was all a dream, Kai started to slap himself until his bear and a girl that looked very familiar jumped out of the portal and grabbed Kai by the arm. It struck him, that the girl was the one from Teddy Bear Land who greeted him and his mom when they went to the store 7 years ago. “Are you the lady from Teddy Bear Land?” asked Kai with a questioning look. “Don’t worry about that right now, we must leave, follow me,” said the still young lady. “Wait where are you guys taking me?” Kai questioned. “You were one of the few people who managed to complete the mission and the bear has been monitoring you since the day you got him. No more questions. We must leave now or else we’re going to be late,” she replied. Grabbing Kai by the arm, they jumped into the portal. Kai was astonished. In front of him was an enormous city floating on a cloud that seemed like the futuristic version of New York City. It was filled with activities all around, and they headed towards the futuristic Empire State building. Looking all around Kai saw a gigantic billboard that read, “Welcome our hero!” with a picture of Kai on it. Kai though he was famous here. He was more than famous, he was a hero. The acts of kindness that Kai had been performing for the past 7 years has been powering their world. “No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.”-Aesop

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With the legalization of marijuana officially on the table, questions about what that means for the nation are cropping up quicker than dispensaries across Toronto.  As politicians debate the issues, we’re left to ponder what’s to come…how and where will marijuana be sold? At what age can you purchase marijuana?  And perhaps the most pressing and controversial question of all: how will this impact the nation’s youth?

When it comes to the rights and best interest of youth, there’s quite a bit of contention among the experts.  While some emphasize the harms of use on cognitive development and mental health, others advocate for the reform of laws, arguing that the impact of criminalization on youth trajectories can be far worse than the impact of use itself.  Perhaps the greatest stakeholder of all in this discussion is schools.  Schools, whose main responsibility it is to protect and educate youth, will soon face increasing pressure to respond to new laws about marijuana use, policies, and education in schools.  But what will legalization mean for students, teachers, and the school community? Educators are left with a slew of questions such as:

  • What policies should schools have in place regarding use?
  • How should marijuana be discussed and taught in classrooms?
  • How far from school grounds will dispensaries be allowed to stand?
  • What are youth’s legal rights surrounding marijuana use?
  • What are the legal ramifications of illegal use or distribution?
  • What might the potential benefits of legalization be for schools?

Soon there will be inevitable changes to the national landscape, and schools will be expected to adapt.  They’ll need the knowledge and tools to respond to issues of illegal distribution, medicinal use, illegal use, and more. They’ll need to evaluate current policies and practices and make the adjustments they deem fit. They’ll need to reconsider the way they educate youth about the topic, while evaluating their capacity to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students.

We here at the Canadian Safe School Network realize how important it is to be prepared, and that’s why CSSN will be hosting, “The M Word: Exploring Perspectives on the Legalization of Marijuana and Safe Schools” in both Vancouver on October 5th and Toronto on October 6th.  Join us as experts from across sectors, including government, law enforcement, education, the cannabis industry and mental health, offer their perspectives on the impending legalization of marijuana and how it will affect students, educators, and safe school communities at large.  We’ll provide insights, answer questions, and promote discussion so that educators may feel better prepared for what’s to come.

To learn more about the Toronto conference or to register click here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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The Canadian Safe School Network would like to give honourable mention to the following Safe Schools Story Book Contest submission.  Here is a beautiful poem entitled, “The Different Sheep” by 8th grade student Evelyn of Earl Marriott Secondary School. Evelyn’s message about diversity and inclusion really aligns with CSSN’s values. Thanks for sharing, Evelyn! Keep up the great work!

The Different Sheep

There were four groups of sheep, only four.

There weren’t less there weren’t more, four, four, four!

There were white sheep, grey sheep, brown and black.

The rest was history, no sheep ever looked back!

The white sheep were dumb, pretty and annoying;

The grey sheep were smart but rude and boring;

The black sheep were nasty, scary and mean;

At least that’s how the other sheep thought they did seem.

And at last came the brown sheep, all ignorant and popular.

They were the best of all, on top, spectacular!

Now one day at school, a brown sheep dropped her pencil,

But soon off the ground lifted the writing utensil.

The brown sheep looked up and saw the black sheep.

He was smiling, not nasty, scary or mean!

She took the pencil and started to think;

Maybe he wasn’t so bad, as he flashed her a wink.

On the walk home from school they had beautiful weather,

And when the black sheep saw the brown sheep he felt as light as a feather.

Slowly, the black sheep walked over to the white,

And very, very slowly, the black sheep said “Hi!”

Soon after that, they became friends,

And they played together secretly again and again.

One day a white sheep found them playing catch;

She turned to tell her friends, but soon after turned right back.

She joined in quickly, tossing the ball,

And bouncing it a few times against the school wall.

A grey sheep saw them playing, and drew in a gasp,

Thinking with his brain, he knew his task.

He caught the ball when the brown sheep couldn’t,

And kept playing catch, though they knew they shouldn’t.

One day they thought, let’s spread the word!

Let’s spread the word, let it fly like a bird!

The others were hesitant, nervous and scared,

What about the legends, the stories they’ve shared?

What about the stereotypes? Were they really true?

They’d never spoken to each other, they never knew!

Gradually they joined in playing catch, everywhere.

From morning to night, they didn’t care!

They had play dates and shared secrets, in and out of school.

They all played together, they forgot about the rules!

Forgetting the rumors, they blended together;

They would all be best friends, best friends forever!

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The Canadian Safe School Network is thrilled to announce the launch of our #StandTogether campaign!  #StandTogether is about recognizing our diversity, embracing our differences, and coming together in solidarity to prevent bullying.

Bullying and cyberbullying incidents are increasing every year.  Kids get bullied for all kinds of reasons, but 70% of reported bullying is because they either look or act differently – race, weight, height, clothing, and any physical, religious and sexual differences – can all play a part. And over half of all teens have had at least one negative social networking experience, while an alarming 33% of students who are bullied online report symptoms of depression.

The Canadian Safe School Network’s new Stand Together campaign takes a unique, action-centered approach which will help prevent bullying and make schools safer. We’re asking people to buy special anti-bullying socks with a portion of the sale going to help financially support meaningful programs like Lift Up, Press Play Documentary Contest and BullyStop hack-a-thons.

As part of our campaign, we’ve created an educational resource that can be used in classrooms across the country to prevent bullying. This educational resource offers practical tools, discussion prompts, and lesson-based activities for BULLYING, DIVERSITY, & KINDNESS.

Help make your school bully free! Check out the #StandTogether Educational Resource, and bring some exciting and valuable lessons about bullying, diversity, and kindness into your classroom!

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