I had a really great time at this conference. Thanks to Dave Fraser, the folks @ Canadian Safe Schools Network & all the Regina people (what do you call someone from Regina??) for such an awesome time. Thanks to Angie for coming along & special shout out to Joyce, Austin & the students attending the conference for being my highlights! After giving the keynote speech in the morning talking about ARROWS Youth Engagement and encouraging students to organize themselves and their friends to share their gifts and build community. The theme of the conference was youth engagement and creating a safe school climate. I loved it because the “W” of ARROWS is Welcome. That point is all about creating a safe space where youth feel safe enough to ask questions, try new things, make mistakes and ask for help. You can do this by creating opportunities for students to direct learning or participate in the decision making processes within the classroom or community initiative. Austin was my helper during the presentation and shared his gift with the 100+ educators, students, family and community members from in and around Regina. Thanks for the 11 year old courage & thanks to his family for bringing him to the conference when his school was not attending!
After the keynote presentation I did a workshop with the students of the conference. 30 of them and a handful of adult chaperones on student engagement. We began by playing a game of hangman (answer: Raise your voice) and went around the room introducing ourselves and sharing our gift. Some youth passed on sharing their gift, but by the end of the presentation every single person had shared their gift with others and committed to helping their peers find do the same. The best part of the presentation was when we put youth engagement in action. We identified gaps in the school and brainstormed a few ideas of initiatives that could exist. We narrowed it down, voted and came up with THUMB MASTERS! This was a exercise video game program that asked student gamers to come together once a week to play new games, be mentored by a youth video game coach and learn how to plan, poster and play games! Youth plotted out the roles of the helpers and the steps that would need to be taken by each of these people at school. It was a great idea and we had a lot of fun planning it. At the end some of the students as young as 10 years old were asking if Thumb Masters was coming to their school. I told them it can happen to their school if they do what we did today with their class or their friends. I look forward to reconnecting with these youth in the future and seeing the types of initiatives that they create.
At the end of the conference one of the students gave me this napkin. She said her gift was art, and she had 3 napkins with various types of drawings she had sketched during the presentation. She gave me this one…a drawing of me saying thanks for the message. Very cool. I had such a great time in Regina and especially had a great time and look forward to hearing great things in the future about the leadership of these students.