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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Last Thursday, June 2, CSSN visited Mountain View Academy in Calgary Alberta to ask their grade 10 and 11 students for some help.

The Safe Schools Hackathon program uses a ground up approach to learn about social media and cyberbullying directly from those who know it best; students. The Hackathon program engages students in a discussion about cyberbullying, encouraging them to share their own insights based on what they’ve witnessed or experienced online.

We then invited students to pull out their phones. Although Mountain View Academy has a ‘no phones in class’ rule, we got an exemption for this unique learning opportunity. Students took a different look at the apps they used most, noticing commonly used features such as menus, buttons and icons. The program outlined the initial stages of app design and taught students how to develop wireframes and storyboards.  Teams of students were then given time to conceptualize their own apps that could help put an end to cyberbullying. At the end of the session 4 clever concepts were presented.

Each idea suggested offered educational tools and ways of coping with online bullying. A vote was had to determine the winning team, and we are proud to congratulate Emily, Taylor and Suweyda on their winning concept!

The curriculum for the Hackathon program was put together by safe school experts at CSSN and the team at Lighthouse Labs who provided valuable input on app design.

Over the summer CSSN will continue to develop the Safe Schools Hackathon program with the goal of visiting more cities across Canada next fall!

For more information on cyberbullying check out our resource:

https://canadiansafeschools.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Cyberbullying-resource-for-print.pdf

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In high school, the month of June means many things. Although summer is around the corner, this is one of the most stressful time periods for students and educators alike. Exams, projects, university applications, all pile up. It is estimated that 10-20% of Canadian youth (12 – 19) are affected by a mental illness or disorder. This includes anxiety, stress, and depression. The total number of 12-19 year olds in Canada at risk for developing depression is a staggering 3.2 million. The Canadian Safe School Network and YYoga want to encourage high school teachers and students to relax, breathe and restore their mental health during a month long wellness campaign.

Presenting: Crunch time!

For the month of June we’ve created tools to help students de-stress, stay focused, and engage in practices that enhance wellness. The Crunch Time Campaign includes a comprehensive educational resource (in print and online), a series of ‘how-to’ yoga videos, discounts at Yyoga studios, and crunch time yoga events specifically for educators!

The Resource

Yoga in particular is an invaluable wellness practice. Yoga offers extraordinary benefits to both mind and body and can lead to a healthier, more balanced life.  Because of its tremendous value and connection to various aspects of our lives, yoga is woven into each of the 6 main focus areas that comprise the Crunch Time resource.

1. Stress & Burn-out: Learn about how stress affects your body and tips for managing stressful situations.

2. Time Management: Determine what your biggest time wasters are, and set goals to stay on task.

3. Exercise: You know it’s good for your body, but what else can exercise do for you? Find out more.

4. Nutrition: As the old saying goes, ‘You are what you eat’.  Learn about which foods can help you to become a more focused and stress-free student.

5. Sleep: Here are some reasons you should be getting more of it, and tips for catching more Zz’s.

6. Mindfulness: What is it, and how can it change your brain? We’ll fill you in on the importance of the present moment and ways to practice getting there.

Each focus area provides explanations, key definitions, fun facts, tips, and points for reflection. Also included are insights into the advantages of yoga as well as short videos to teach you postures and poses that will help guide your practice.

The Promotions

Drop by any YYoga location and menion ‘Crunch Time’ to receive the following fantastic discounts:

Intro discount – YYoga Introductory offer of 30 days for $40.

Educator discount – 15% off of our 5 class pass, 10 class pass and annual pass

YYoga Student offer –  $99/month pass for unlimited access to all of our YYoga facilities. (Regular monthly cost for a membership is $120/month)

The Events

Stay tuned throughout the month of June as we announce events happening at YYoga studios in Toronto and Vancouver specifically for educators. Based on the Crunch Time Resource, we will present yoga classes featuring poses and techniques related to time management, stress & burn out, sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness, as well as tips on  applying yoga and breathing to the classroom setting. We will be announcing details for these summer events soon!

This month, don’t let Crunch Time get you down. Let the Canadian Safe School Network and YYoga help you feel great and perform your best!

 

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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 Vancouver conference or to register click here.

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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In January, CSSN received over 100 amazing stories written by students across Canada. These stories taught us lessons about kindness, friendship, acceptance, bullying and much more. It was a pleasure to read all the entries and to hear from so many exceptional young people! We want to thank you ALL for sending us your stories!

The winning stories have been selected!

Congratulations to:

1st place winner – “Danika’s PJ Incident” by Jahzara, Suddaby P.S., Waterloo Region District School Board.

TWO Runners Up:

These stories will also be published in the Safe Schools Story Book!

Peter’s Poster, by Hannah, Illustrated by Abby Osler School, Prairie Spirit School Division.

Big or Small, You Can Do It All! by Miranda, Earl Marriott Secondary, Surrey School District #36

These stories were well written, creative and shared important messages. Congratulations on a job well done! We are looking forward to working with these talented authors on publishing the Second Safe Schools Story Book.

But there’s more! We were so delighted by all of the entries we received that we’ve decided to highlight some of our favourites on our website! Once a month we will post entries from the story contest for students and teachers to read! So check back to see if your story is there!

Thank you to everyone who participated in to the teachers who incorporated this initiative into their classrooms.

 

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What’s a parent to do when the hardships that we’re 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.

In the last month, CSSN held the first two of our Bully Stop Hackathons, and we’re thrilled to say they were a great success!

The BullyStop Hackathon is a new Safe Schools initiative developed to help combat cyberbullying.

Bullying is one of the most prevalent and harmful issues facing youth today. Not only does bullying make children feel unsafe, but it puts their mental, social, and physical well-being at risk. With the rise of social media, the problem has only become more severe. Bullying, harassment and intimidation have become an inescapable, 24/7 problem for many Canadian children. The effects of bullying can be devastating and in the most severe of cases can lead to suicide.

Despite the issues, the reality is that communication technology has carved a lasting place in society. We live in digital times, and our capacity for online communication is only growing. In fact, computer coding is being introduced into provincial school curriculum and will likely continue to be integrated across the nation. As the space for online social networks continues to grow, more is needed to combat negative peer interactions and to promote safety, resilience, and positive mental health. We don’t believe that social technology is inherently the problem. In fact, we believe that it may be the solution.

 

This event, held in Vancouver and Toronto in Lighthouse Labs offices (and soon to be Calgary and Halifax) invited high school and university students to take part in a friendly competition to build mobile apps that can help put an end to cyberbullying.

The events saw students:

Discuss the issues and explore perspectives

– What are the problems and who is impacted?

Learn about app technology and development.

– Students learned about computer coding for iOS, how to storyboard their ideas, and how to develop a concept ready for market.

Collaborate and create ways to put a stop to cyberbullying.

-Students worked alongside safe school facilitators, law enforcement officials, and tech experts to brainstorm ideas for digital solutions.

-They competed in a creative competition to design iOS apps that could help eliminate cyberbullying.

-Teams pitched their ideas to the one another and to the adult experts.  The room voted on the winning app in each city!

We’ve heard excellent ideas all around! The events have allowed us to hear directly from youth on the most pertinent issues they face in the online world, which in turn allows us to develop solutions that are effective. We’re proud to have met and worked with such engaged and inspiring young individuals thus far, and can’t wait to hear more fantastic ideas as we head to Calgary and Halifax.

The program came to life with help from our generous sponsors Lighthouse Labs, and Telus WISE who seek to make the online world safer for everyone using it.

To check out CTV coverage of this event click here.

Stay tuned for more information on the BullyStop Hackathon as we look to develop a program that will bring the initiative to schools across the country! If you’d like to know more, get in touch!

 

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