Approximately 120 students will have an opportunity to build mental health resiliency and develop skills to help them succeed in their life and career goals.
The students from throughout British Columbia will attend the BC Lions Skills 4 Life Summit in the Lower Mainland this weekend. “The Skills 4 Life Summit is a transformative experience for youth, introducing them to useful and innovative ways of thinking to ensure they are moving forward on clear and positive paths to the future,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “This year’s summit builds on our government’s increased focus on youth mental health and our commitment to ensuring students are supported with the skills they need to feel safe and connected at school and thrive in all areas of their lives.”
The two-day student ambassador program, presented by the BC Lions in partnership with the B.C. government, is intended to give students in grades 7-9 a variety of tools required to be successful in their relationships, school environment, career path and overall life journey. Students were chosen to attend by their principals, who were asked to identify students they felt would benefit strongly from the experience.
This year’s summit, back after a two-year hiatus, has a new focus on mental health and wellness, and healthy decision-making. The summit’s agenda is in line with the government’s commitment to improving mental health supports and services for people of all ages.
“We know that promoting mental health early in a young person’s life can make a lasting difference,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “I am so grateful to the BC Lions for everything they are doing to build the next generation of leaders who are fighting stigma and breaking down the walls of silence that prevent people from reaching out for help.”
The government recently launched A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in the province. A key focus of the roadmap is wellness promotion, along with prevention, early identification and intervention for children and youth through co-ordinated services in their homes, communities and schools.
B.C. students will have access to enhanced mental health and substance use supports and programs. Over the next three years, $8.87 million will be invested to provide individual grants to all 60 school districts.
Erase (Expect Respect and a Safe Education), the Province’s safe school strategy, was recently expanded to focus on mental health and wellness, substance use, and gang and gun prevention, in addition to supporting students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
The Erase strategy will be a key focus of this year’s summit. Students will learn about the importance of maintaining positive mental health, where to seek help if they or someone they know is struggling, and tips and tools for managing stress and anxiety.
On Day 1 of the summit, Saturday, Nov. 2, students representing school districts throughout the province will participate in a game-day experience and watch the BC Lions take on the Calgary Stampeders, with VIP treatment at BC Place. Joining them at the game, as well as for a pre-game sideline visit with the team, will be Fleming and Darcy.
On Day 2, Sunday, Nov. 3, students will attend a full-day workshop-style event also in Vancouver. Youth will have an opportunity to hear from and interact with BC Lions players and management team members, rotate through sessions focused on mental health, leadership and teambuilding and career exploration through the WorkBC Find Your Fit tour, all in addition to dragon boating.
“The BC Lions Football Club is very excited to be partnering with the Province for the Skills 4 Life Summit, as one of the key pillars of our organization is to make a positive impact in communities throughout B.C.,” said Jamie Taras, director of community partnerships. “We can’t wait to meet the students and share with them some of our experiences in the hope that they will be inspired to be the best they can be.”
For more information on Erase services and resources for students, parents and teachers, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/er