A youth summit held in Penticton on Friday is hoping to break the silence and end the stigma about mental health.
Over 200 youth from Okanagan schools, from Kelowna to Osoyoos, are gathering at the Penticton Community Centre to participate in activities about mental wellness at the B.C. Children’s Hospital Balancing our Minds Youth Summit.
“I think quite often messages of positive influence that come peer-to-peer are easier for students to relate too. We have lot grade 8 to 10 students attending and older kids that are presenting. They were recently in their shoes and learned strategies to overcome challenges as they entered high school,” said Jenny Mitchell, School District 67 co-ordinator for promoting healthy living.
The summit previously was held in Vancouver with kids from all over the province travelling to attend. This year grants were awarded to five communities across the province by the B.C. Children’s Hospital and Canucks for Kids fund with the hope that it would be more accessible to all students. Topics on the agenda include speakers from the Summerland Secondary School student-driven wellness team, gender diversity and safe spaces, healthy habits, positive body image and a Q&A panel at the end of the day.
The Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Fair Society is a co-sponsor of the summit helping to bring in the keynote speaker, former CFL player Shea Emry, who will also be giving a talk on Saturday at the annual Healthy Living Fair.
Emry suffered a concussion that put him out for the football season in 2011, leaving him battling negative self-talk, isolation and drew him back to the depression he had as a youth that was a victim of abuse. In 2012, he was inspired to use his platform in professional sport to share his story to help others to move forward.
“He struggled with things throughout his life and a big message he gives is overcoming those with positivity, finding your passion in life and getting out and in touch with nature,” said Mitchell. “He will then speak on Saturday to the general public with a bit different of a message of encouraging people to talk about mental health. That is something the kids who are attending the youth summit already do in their schools. It is really great because he will speak to the kids then their parents can see him on Saturday and it gives a doorway for parents and children to connect on a topic and start a spark a conversation that might not happen otherwise.”
The Healthy Living Fair takes place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
Emry will speak at the fair at 9:15 a.m. Other speaking sessions taking place include professional triathlete Jen Annett on living with epilepsy and overcoming life’s hurdles (1 p.m.) and Emily Mayne on questions to ask your doctor and pharmacists.
The fair will also host other presenters speaking about health eating, activity demonstrations and over 60 organizations that support a healthy living focus.
A key element of the Healthy Living Fair is the opportunity to participate in the free Healthy Living Assessment program. Pre-register for the program prior to the event. Then, on Saturday drop by the Healthy Living Assessment table in the atrium entrance and pick-up your ForMyHealth! Profile and Plan that you can personalize.
With your package in hand, you can then visit the various stations where health professionals will take your blood pressure, meet with you one-on-one to discuss stress, eating healthy, being fit and how to stop smoking.
A quiet room will be available for you to sit down, relax and start setting your healthy-living goals. Take your completed ForMyHealth! Profile and Plan to your next annual doctor’s appointment to review and set-up a plan.
All elements of the event are free to the public, but registration is necessary for the Healthy Living Assessment program and can be done, in-advance, on the event website which is found at www.healthylivingfair.com.
All pre-registered participants with the Healthy Living Assessment program will be entered into a draw for a prize. The draw will take place at the end of the fair.
All elements of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Fair are free. The Youth Engagement Strategy Project will also be at the fair to launch their fundraising campaign for a youth resource centre.