Grade nine students from across the Fraser Cascades School District gathered at Hope Secondary School Sept. 9 for the first annual youth summit. School District 78 and the Hope and Area Transition Society (HATS) partnered with RCMP’s Strategic Prevention Services to bring the students together for a day of learning and interaction.
According to HATS Youth Coordinator Bonnie Millward, the summit’s purpose is to “support kids in trying to address and tackle the challenges of being a youth nowadays.”
“They get to connect with resources, they get to learn stuff that’s outside of their regular curriculum,” she says. “They get to learn things outside of school and connect with community resources and see whats available in their community that they might not have been aware of.”
The 120 students gathered in the Hope Secondary School gymnasium for the opening ceremonies by the Chawathil Drummers. Key note speaker Jesse Miller talked about the responsibilities, safety and online citizenship of using social media.
The students were organized into four colour groups: red, yellow, black and white (representing the colours of the Medicine Wheel) and rotated through four break-out sessions throughout the day. The four interactive sessions included : Youth Rights, Mindfulness, Gang Awareness and a Power Zone. The planning process for the summit included discussions with a variety of youth so topics chosen were relevant to students.
The Power Zone was a place where students could interact with various local and provincial resources to inform them of opportunities for support and information. Included in the Power Zone was a graffiti wall and tech corner where students had the opportunity to express themselves and provide feedback on the event.
Millward says that HATS, School District 78 and the RCMP are hoping to make the summit a yearly event.
“The way the [district] has it set up right now, in grade five [kids] have DARE, in grade seven there’s Safe Teen and in grade nine there’s the youth summit,” she says.
“So every other year they get an influx of knowledge, connections, resources.”