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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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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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 Toronto conference or to register click here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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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 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 @ https://www.facebook.com/sherilynnfishbach

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: http://bc.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=827660&binId=1.1184694&playlistPageNum=1

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: https://canadiansafeschools.com/events/bullystop 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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