Maritimers …stepping up to help

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One of the most stressful things School Counsellors ever have to do is assist a student who is contemplating suicide. We never want a child to feel so hopeless that they feel that there is no reason left  to live.

So I recognize how much courage it takes for a person that it is not in this profession to help when something so serious happens.  A gigantic thanks to two very courageous Maritimers who stepped up to help . Thanks Robbie for letting me share your story.

Robbie’s Story …
As most of you know, I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time on March 1, 2012. That was the day I was able to help a young man from taking his own life.
It was just after 1 o’clock on a clear, but very cold day. I was pulling into my parking spot situated on the top level of the parkade. I noticed a young person sitting on the wrong side of the railing. To be honest, my first reaction was to grab my phone and take a picture of the young man who I would later know as (Stephen). I just thought he was a thrill seeker. He was texting on his phone,dressed in a warm coat with a hoodie underneath, and the hood pulled up over his head. I could not see his face as his back was towards me. As a matter of fact, I only got to see his face three times over the course of the next 25 minutes.
Just as I was about to take his picture (I’m still thinking he is young and cocky for sitting on the wrong side of the railing) he starts to turn his body slowly around. I start to panic and lower my phone so he wouldn’t see me taking his photo. His head moved very slowly back around, facing away from me. I never saw his face.
I was in a rush to get back to my office, so jumped out of my truck and headed to the stairs in the corner of the parkade. To this day I don’t know why I stopped short but things just weren’t adding up. I could tell he lived on the street. His clothes were very dirty and the speed his head was moving was very slow. It was freezing at -15, so I stopped and turned around.I walked slowly up to him and asked, “Are you ok?” No response. I asked him again. No response. I am about 15 feet away from him on his left side. I ask once more and he responds in a slurred voice, “Nobody cares”. My first thought when he said that was … oh my god, we’ve got a jumper! It went through my head just like the movie Old School.
Surprisingly I stayed very calm, plus he couldn’t see my face when I first realized he was going to take his own life. It wasn’t hard to tell drugs were at play as well. Not sure what to do after he responded, I moved closer to him. This is when my heart dropped. He shuffled across a four inch concrete ledge away from me. You or I couldn’t do what he did sober, let alone high on drugs. The positive thing was he stopped by a column and could put his hand on it to support himself if needed. He was shaking very bad and would act like he was going to jump two or three times.

I just kept asking him questions.
“What is your name?”
“Where are you from?”
“Do you miss home?”
“Do you miss water?”
Every question I asked him and he wouldn’t answer, I would answer myself.
“What is your name?”
“My name is Robbie.”
“Do you miss water?”
“I miss water, I’m from the east coast.”
For every 10 questions I asked, I would get about 1 answer in return, but we were starting to make a small connection. Finally he turned his head to see who was asking him all the questions and why. Then he turned away, but started answering a few of the question.
“What’s your name?’
“Stephen.”
“Where are you from?”
“The coast.” He slurred.
“What coast?”
“B.C.”
“Do you miss the water?” He turned slowly once more to look at me. This was the first time I saw his face. When all this was going on, I tried to get the attention of three cars that went by to call 911 for help, but no one stopped until Marty, a great guy from the Maritimes. He quickly realized what was going on and parked. I kept waiving at him to call 911, which he does. He walks slowly up and joins me and we both try to convince Stephen it’s not worth it. More time goes by and Marty and I are frozen, and so is Stephen. I was so scared he would fall, let alone jump. The parkade security showed up, but their radios were freaking Stephen out and he would start to shake as he was going to jump. We waved them to stay back a long distance.

The police also showed up and also stayed back with security. It was just the three of us. Marty and I took turns talking to Stephen and finally as I was telling him how cold it was, he just slowly reached his arm straight back as if to say, Ok, I’m done.
In a split second Marty and I had a hold of him and pulled him back over. Weird but at no time did I think we would drop him. I had the tightest grip ever on him, and so did Marty. From that moment, the police took over and got him downstairs and outside to the ambulance. I noticed when we pulled Stephen over, his phone fell on the ground. I grabbed it and looked at his last text. It was from his mother asking “are you ok?????” My heart broke,  but I got the police to call her right away. Turns out Stephen wouldn’t cooperate with the police unless I was there, so I sat with him until they got the information they needed. He left in an ambulance and I never saw him again.

I’m very grateful. for how this story ended  …  here is more of my story

For a better part of my life I have battled and struggled with anxiety and depression. Throw ADHD on that and you have a wound-up-top on a rollercoaster.Depression is something you hide easy. All you have to do it smile.

That day when Stephen and I were together, we made a connection. We both missed water, but I also made my own connection with him. The only difference between us was I was wearing a nice suit and he was wearing a dirty coat someone gave to him. I knew exactly what was going through his head.

  • Depression doesn’t know if you have a good job.
  • Depression doesn’t know where you live.
  • Depression doesn’t care if you are a good person or not.

I am very fortunate to have the best support people I could ever ask for. Two parents that are there for me for life and a wife that unconditionally loves and supports me. The one thing that’s harder to deal with than depression itself is to be married to someone that battles depression. So I am truly grateful for the support.
Don’t think that having depression slows me down. I have a saying “keep your feet moving” which I do very well. This doesn’t’ mean I don’t need help sometimes and it doesn’t mean I’m weak.
I think about many friends Mark and Colin, Felicity and family, Chad, Colette and family, Lori and her girls and their commonality is that they’ve all lost someone special. Someone that you never thought would take their own life. Someone that will never be replaced. Someone they loved very much.
They also gave me the courage to speak out and that it’s OK to talk about mental illness and depression. There probably will never be a cure for mental illness, but we always can be there for others. My father made a comment to me one time;
“Robbie, it doesn’t’ cost anything to care”.
Please understand that most people have some sort of struggle in life. Acknowledging and talking about it helps. Trust me, the best thing to do is to talk to someone who won’t judge you and who cares. They will never understand what you are truly going through, but can always offer love and support.

Robbie

Robbie thanks for being you and allowing me to share your story #bellletstalk  . I am sure someone reading this will understand that there are caring people like you and Marty who are willing to reach out to another human being when needed . I truly hope Stephen is alive and gets to read this some day knowing that two Maritimers who both live in Calgary were willing to step up to help.

ACCESS Mental Health
Provides mental health information and service options
Mon-Fri: 7:30am – 7:00p.m.
Telephone: 943-1500 (voicemail after hours)
Email: mental.health@albertahealthservices.ca

Health Link Alberta
Access to nurse advice and health information
24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Telephone: 943-LINK (5465) Calgary or 1-866-408-5465 (Toll Free)
Website: http://www.healthlinkalberta.ca

Inform Alberta
General info about community, health, social, and government services across the province
Telephone: 2-1-1
Website: http://www.informalberta.ca

 

Adolescents and Trauma

 

Trauma has adverse affects that can have an long term consequences. We need to help youth recognize that:

  • Abuse is not their fault
  • They can be kind to others, but more importantly they need be kind to themselves
  • Connections count
  • Having a positive social network makes a difference
  • Mistakes are a part of a learning process
  • Positive self-talk can help
  • Learning how to make healthy relationship choices is an asset
  • Reaching out for help is a strength not a weakness

Bruce Perry a leading psychiatrist on child trauma has said that trauma is held in every cell of the body. It is no wonder children often have difficulties coping years later.

Thanks to Sheldon Kennedy for taking a stand when it comes to youth and trauma. His story will help millions. His courage will help young men and women to never feel like they are alone.

If you aren’t sure who Sheldon is then you must watch his movie and hopefully you will be inspired to help others understand they are not alone and that life can be very different once they receive the help they deserve.

 

 

 

Love Leadership and School Counselling

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YOU are a leader ! What you say and do does matter .Technology can assist you in being an amazing leader who reaches the whole school population.

Technology is also a very important part of students lives today and will be even more prevalent in the future. School Counsellors can find a way to incorporate exciting new practices into their School Counselling programs. These changes can inspire not only your students , but they can help and inspire YOU the School Counsellor as well.

I hope you enjoyed my presentation on LOVE LEADERSHIP and SCHOOL COUNSELLING for the ATA Council for School Counsellors Conference. This blog is written just for you so you can look back and enjoy the resources , but I know if you were an attendee this all makes much more sense to you and you got a few freebies besides. Thanks for being there. I appreciate you giving of your valuable time.

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If I can learn to use technology as a seasoned School Counsellor, you can too.  I love technology and think it is essential to present and future School Counsellors. Why? Because it allows us to connect with students in their space as well as allows us an opportunity to connect to the whole school population. Of course there will always be a place and a space for meeting and connecting with students individually, but it is also extremely important to reach as many students as possible and that can be done through the use of technology.

Technology also allows us to develop a PLN with people from all around the world. In my opinion this is one of the best ways to connect with not only School Counsellors who are passionate, but also with other educators who use technology to assist them in improving and reflecting on what it is they do for students. Dr. Erin Mason @ecmmason my friend is an amazing leader when it comes to School Counsellors utilizing and creating ideas with technology and you were lucky enough to connect with her at this conference. Check out her SCOPE page if you haven’t already.I am so happy she is at this conference.

So, conference participants enjoy.  Meeting , connecting , sharing and helping you is what I hope to do to pay it forward for all that has been given to me. The rest of this blog will be about the resources I think you as School Counsellors can use to make a difference.

#1 is Twitter so I encourage you to get an account today. It will transform your life and the life of your future students if used properly. Twitter is where it all began for me and then ETMOOC changed the way I offered parts of my School Counselling program. A special thanks to Alec Couros @courosa Ed tech professor extraordinaire and social media expert at the University of Regina. You will want to follow him and his brother George @gcouros a leader and fabulous administrator on twitter.

Advantages of twitter:

  • It allows for opportunities to connect, collaborate, share and learn from and with people from all over the world.
  • I have used Twitter and Google docs to collaborate with other School Counsellors and educators who have wanted to contribute to Mental Health in High School as well as many other projects.
  • Using the hashtags #SCCrowd and #scchat as well as some other great chats allows us to connect with School Counselling professionals who are more than willing to help us as we continue to work with and make a difference for students.
    School Counsellor chat schedule
  • The instant anytime access allows me to get information or resources that I can utilize in an open manner which not only helps me , but may help others.
  • It also allows us a voice for reaching out to others to let them know that what we do matters.

Check out this post by University of Regina President Vianne Timmons saying School Counsellors Change and Save Lives click here.

This post has had thousands of  people who have seen it. Social media can reach people quickly.

  • Twitter allows you as a School Counsellor to share and help other School Counsellors, School Counselling students and educators.
  • If you want to learn more about School Counsellors observe their twitter accounts. Please follow them using the hashtags you saw above #scchat #sccrowd and #escchat . You’ll get a good sense of how you too can be a positive digital citizen and model this for your future students.

Ask for help. Other School Counsellors and educators are always willing to help you. If you have questions or concerns please do not hesitate to ask.

One of the best ways you can find the best tech tools to use as a School Counsellor is to check out SCOPE School Counselor Online Professional Exchange. Spend some time there. It will be worth your time and effort.

#2 Haiku Deck As a School Counsellor you will have to give presentations or you may wish to share ideas or messages with students that you think are important. Haiku Deck @haikudeck is my number one go to app. It has a creative commons license built within the app that allows a visual experience that is like none other.
The power of social media to touch others is absolutely amazing. This simple @haikudeck on Who Matters? has had over 80,000 views . One never knows the impact a simple gesture can have online and off.

#3 Livebinders I love to use livebinders to organize and share useful School Counselling information. At Bishop Carroll High School we use livebinders to share large amounts of important information with students in a single space.

Here are two of our livebinders co-created by our School Counselling team Erin Luong @ehordyskiluong , Peter Damen and I :

Post Secondary Planning here
This Personal Wellness livebinder here

#4 Smore

There are so many benefits for using smores. Check out my smore with resources on LEADERSHIP here.

#5 iMovie / YouTube I use iMovie more and more to present to students information that I think will be helpful to them. Dean Shareski , a Canadian educator said once and it has stayed with me video trumps text, so I try to use video as much as possible to create information students can relate to and then upload the iMovie to YouTube. I do this all on my iPhone which makes things very easy for me.

 

 

#6 Blogs

Blogs are a great tool to create, connect and learn from others. For me creating blogs still requires a great deal of effort as I am still learning, but today’s example is a great way of sharing information with others from far away. I started my blog in May of 2013. It has had over 15,000 views from over 105 countries.

SCOPE blog
Check out the blog roll of School Counselors.
#7 Google docs are an amazing way to collaborate. I collaborate with our students on our Wellness committee and our Who’s Frank? team.

#8 Pinterest is a fabulous way to collate information and gather information for future use. I love the visual aspect of pinterest.Pinterest does indeed inspire creativity . I have used it for many things including creating School Counselling bulletin boards as well as for ideas for presentations.

#9 Google hangouts

Again, yet another great way to connect with School Counsellors and educators from across the world.

The Future of School Counselling Google Hangout

The Future of School Counselling

You can see that I use multiple tools in multiple ways to help me do a variety of things that help not only School Counsellors , but students as well. Three years ago I did not know how to do any of this so … if I can you can too.

Be the leader you HOPE others will BE.

What if ? … #immooc

What if

we lived in a world where there was PEACE?

we had schools filled with HOPE and LOVE?

there was no child abuse or sexual abuse ?

children did not have to live in homes affected by alcohol or drug abuse ?

we did not have children who came to school starving?

we lived in a world without violence?

there was no bullying ?

kindness was on the minds of all?

no child would die by suicide?

all students with mental health disorders recieved the supports and treatments necessary?

we had all the supports necessary to assist students with special needs?

every adult who worked in schools were passionate about what they do?

every teacher, counsellor and administrator had everything they felt they needed to meet the needs of students?

no child was left out or discriminated againgst?

all people were treated like a gift to the world?

schools had enough money to do all the innovative things they wanted to?

creativity , fun and joy abounded in our schools?

music and exercise were a part of every student and educators day?

schools were more like the most comfy inviting home you were ever in?

every student LOVED coming to school to learn?

we were all more grateful?

hugs were given freely and respectfully to those who wanted or needed them?

School Counsellors  were seen as essential in every school , at every level K-12 in our country?

schools could easily access any resources and supports they needed in an easy , timely and helpful manner?

What if some of these came to reality? What if we all educated from the heart? Innovative practices would be so much easier.

 

Relationships Relationships Relationships … Great Leaders Matter

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Having worked in schools for 36 years I absolutely recognize the importance of a great leader. I am grateful to have worked with so many.

Fortunately for me I get to work with an outstanding leader everyday. He is forward thinking, innovative, positive , intelligent , has great sense of humour , cares deeply about students and staff , is extremely supportive of School Counsellors and most importantly kind. He makes a difference. Thanks @neilof12.

On this Canadian thanksgiving day , I think it is very important to tell the people who you care about and are grateful for that you do. Too often people think it , but don’t say it. I try to say it as often as I can because I recognize life is precious.

I make a point of telling those that have impacted me that they have including my students.

As a leader myself , I make every effort to be the kind of leader I want others to be. I gave my principal  The Innovator’s Mindset when it came out knowing that he was already an innovator, but also knowing like me he too is a lifelong learner.

Today most importantly I am grateful for my husband and children who have had the biggest and most positive impact on my life. Because of them I can be the kind of educator,   leader and person I want to be.

I am so… so…  so grateful for the wonderful friendships that I have in my life. They have and still do enrich and transform my life.

I am grateful for #immooc and @gcouros for having the insights and passion to make a difference in students and educators lives including mine. Thanks to all those in #immooc who have connected and shared with me. I am grateful. I believe very strongly when we are excited about learning we pass that on to all those around us and can make a real difference in the life of a child. Isn’t that why we chose this profession?  Yes, George relationships do matter … they are absolutely everything.

 

Reality #IMMOOC

I love #IMMOOC and all the learning and connections in it, but keeping up isn’t easy in a MOOC and it is not supposed to be. The reality of everyday life kicks in. School gets busy, family responsibilities and life gets busy especially in the fall. We are all back to reality.

The nice thing about a MOOC is you can take what you like , do what you like , connect with people that you like ,when you like, how you like.

There are no failures!!!! Learning for the sake of learning is your option … without guilt.

I am grateful that I can particpate on voxer because it suits me to check in anytime from anywhere.

I also like that I can choose when to respond and where to respond and that I don’t have to do it all ( although I am tempted to want to ). So step into the reality and enjoy the learning along the way. If you learn 1 new thing or 100 new things it does not matter. Enjoy the process.

My goals:

  • Connect and share on voxer .
  • Read at least two blog posts and make comments.
  • Join in the live sessions as much as possible.
  • Blog once a week.
  • Put into practice somethings I have learned at work.
  • Follow the twitter and facebook feeds and learn from the posts.

Thanks to all for sharing . I especially love the live posting on twitter. Voxer peeps you rock , love all the learning. Amazing job Emily Clare @EClare_AHS for organizing and keeping the learning going.

Reality : No matter how much or how little you do in #IMMOOC  … YOU MATTER … YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE . You are taking the time out of your life as an educator and person to learn and help others knowing in the end that you will help students … How great is that?

For any of you who are School Counsellors , I know that this week you may have saved a students life that is your reality … so thanks just in case no one has noticed .

Enjoy your reality …

Clean Your Mind Clear The Clutter

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Cleaning our minds from the clutter can help us on our journey to deeper thinking. A beautiful walk in the morning can do just that. I walk almost every day during the school year with @ehordyskiluong. We share ideas,  get inspired, and think about innovative and creative ideas. We vent if we need to  (not often). Talk about our families, but mostly we clear our minds of the clutter so we can begin each new day fresh.

As we enter this six weeks of #IMMOOC , I am sure we will discuss all the new things we are learning on our walks. We will refresh some of our old ideas like Walking Talking Counselling.

We have discussed getting treadmills in our counselling offices and allowing those students who are interested to walk , problem solve and share and grow with us. We are interested in what you think. We would love you to share your ideas , thoughts , and possible resources.

Another way to clear the clutter is to build in a lunch time for yourself. I recommend to all new counsellors that I supervise to get out of their office for lunch, leave their phone behind and clear the mind so they are ready to go for the afternoon. Self care is a necessity in our profession.

Our minds when in a relaxed state says Daniel Goleman are ready for optimal performance that is why many times throughout the year Erin and I also start our day with 10 minutes of headspace which is an amazing way to clear the mind.

Wishing you all in #IMMOOC some amazing connections, new ideas and ways to help your students, but don’t forget about you. Clear the mind. Clean the clutter and have fun along the way.

Here is the link  and questions to think about for week 1.