Local students helped organize the Balancing our Minds Youth summit, held in Penticton on March 10, to talk about youth mental health. Submitted photo

Youth summit breaks silence about mental health

About 200 youth from around the Okanagan took part in a day-long mental healt summit last week

Penticton youth spent an intensive day last week talking about mental health and how it relates to them and their communities.

The March 10 event was the first of four Balancing Our Minds youth summits planned for coming months in B.C. The free one-day events are led by youth, for youth to talk about mental health, break down stigma and connect people to resources in their communities.

“There has been some serious moments in the day, in the speeches and there has also been some funny ones, so we have been able to release emotions and discuss the dynamics of mental wellness,” said Victoria Richie, a Penticton Secondary School student and a youth organizer for the event.

Richie said she could see her peers getting engaged during the event, which included a keynote speech from two-time Grey Cup champion Shea Emry and workshops ranging from a guided yoga practice to ways to promote a positive body image, even learning how to share their personal experiences.

“We had two youth from Summerland talk about the work they are doing … how to make other people feel comfortable and learn more about how to share their journey as well,” said Richie. “Tips and tricks about how to open up to people and be confident with their stories.”

Richie went on a guided hike led by Emery, aimed at helping the participants connect with nature and being comfortable with themselves.

“We reflected a lot of moods and how we were feeling. At the start of the hike, some kids were nervous about it, the weather was snowy, so they weren’t super excited about being outside,” said Richie. “As we went on and we appreciated everything, people became more positive and the way they described their mood at the end of the hike was completely different than how they did at the beginning. They seemed to be more open and engaged.”

Paul Irving, project co-ordinator with the health literacy team at B.C. Children’s Hospital, which sponsored the event, said he was impressed by the courage of the students, both the youth organizers that stepped up to help put it together and those who shared their stories.

“I think the main thing we are learning is creating a safe and supportive environment for all the students attending to share tips, to share maybe some of their own experiences, connect, learn about what else they can do in their schools, what other students are doing in their schools to support mental health and wellness,” said Irving.

“It showed me that we all have to support each other,” said Richie. “It’s not about one person helping themselves, it’s everyone being inclusive, being welcoming and feel strong as well.”

Four summits are scheduled from April to May — Surrey, Vancouver Island and Northern B.C. — and are an initiative of B.C. Children’s Hospital, supported by the Canucks for Kids Fund. The Balancing Our Minds summit began in Vancouver, attracting more than 1,000 annually since its inception in 2014.

Just Posted

Penticton Subway making it fresh for Soupateria

Subway shops are donating 600 inches of subs, 100 cookies and drinks to Soupateria Dec. 20

What’s shaking at the museum

Kids got to learn about earthquakes Saturday at the museum.

All aboard the Summerland Christmas Express

The first train of the Summerland Christmas Express schedule.

Vees drop heartbreaker in West Kelowna, host Teddy Bear Toss Saturday

Penticton loses overtime game to West Kelowna Warriors

Apex hosting Canadian selections mogul event

Apex Freestyle Club along with some local competitors from the B.C. Freestyle Ski team are competing

All aboard the Summerland Christmas Express

The first train of the Summerland Christmas Express schedule.

Kamloops RCMP warning public to stay away from unfolding domestic dispute

The public is being asked to avoid Sabiston Creek Road off of the highway

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of sexual harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

Column: Make it a green Christmas

Instead of purchasing a cuddly stuffie this year, put your money towards helping the real thing.

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

Most Read