Our Initiatives

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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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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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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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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CSSN has spent 20 years creating schools that are safe and welcoming for all students in Canada. In 2016 there will be new students in class that need our help.

Before our holiday break, we sat down to discuss our next move in creating safe and inclusive school environments. It occurred to us that with the new year, came new students, and a second ‘Back to School’ season. As Canada accepts 25,000 Syrian refugees by February 2016, it is worth noting that many of them are families with school-aged children. This means that this week, and in weeks to come, refugee children will be stepping into new Canadian classrooms for the first time.

For years we have helped address issues that cause stress and anxiety in children including, starting a new school, learning a new curriculum, being included, and making friends. The reality is a refugee child will face each of these issues upon entering their new classroom.

There is no doubt that this transitional period will be a difficult one. CSSN is proud to announce our newest initiative to help refugee children feel safe and included in their new schools.

Our new Back to School Support Package Initiative will send packages of school supplies, technology, and tutoring services to refugee children across Canada. Our goal is to provide them with all the same supplies their peers will have, as well as offer tutoring to help with language barriers that may affect their studies.

Along with this program we will soon be delivering a number of strategies for teachers, to help create a welcoming environment for their new students.

Learn more about this initiative or purchase a Back to School Support Package here:

https://canadiansafeschools.com/sendsupport

A new school, new friend, a new classroom can be a stressful experience for any child. Imagine not knowing the language, culture and curriculum.

If you are a teacher in Canada who is accepting a new refugee student in your classroom, please get in touch with us to arrange a support package.

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Teachers have the unique luxury of having an additional New Year’s celebration – back to school. As the “New Year” approaches, it is a great time to reflect on some of the goals you would like to achieve for the year ahead. Maybe you want to try out a new teaching strategy, or better integrate technology into your lessons; the possibilities are endless!

 

One of the current main movements in Canadian education is the highlighted importance of inclusion and celebrating diversity in our classrooms. Canada is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, and this beautiful reality is reflected in our classrooms and students. We are lucky to have students from many different countries, who practice different religions, speak various languages, engage in various cultural practices, and more. However, trying to create a classroom (and school) environment that is a safer space for representation and celebration of diversity can be challenging and overwhelming. We challenge you, as one of your New Year’s Resolutions for the 2015-2016 year, to be more aware of how you promote diversity and inclusivity in your classrooms. Here are some strategies to go about promoting diversity and creating a safer space in your classrooms:

  1. Classroom Rules. Within the first couple of days of school, it is essential to have a conversation with your students about classroom rules. Prompt students to share “rules” on diversity, inclusion and acceptance (for example: “How can we ensure that all students feel safe and welcomed in our classroom?” “How do we demonstrate respect for one another?”) Write down the classroom rules on chart paper and hang them up on the wall. As an art project, students can create images to accompany each rule, which can turn into a classroom picture book!
  2. Think big! Inclusion and diversity do not have to stay within the walls of a single classroom. Brainstorm with your class ways to get the word out across the school, such as a poster campaign, an assembly to highlight different kinds of diversity (e.g. Rainbow Week), or ask students to write brief descriptions about different holidays and share the information during morning announcements.
  3. Integration with curriculum. There is room to be creative when implementing curricula. There are many ways to teach and talk about diversity in different subject areas. For example:
  • Music: begin each lesson by playing a song from a different country
  • History: plan a unit on important historical figures who identified as LGBTQ
  • Social Studies: organize a project where students bring in a dish that is native to their families’/ancestors’ homeland and explain the origin of the dish (depending on food allergies.)

 

If you would like to engage in professional development on diversity and inclusion, stay tuned for more information about our Manitoba conference on Monday February 8th, 2016 at the Victoria Inn Winnipeg; this year’s theme is Diversity, Respect and Inclusion.

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