PENTICTON - A series of youth summits aimed at reducing the stigma attached to mental health issues kicked off today in Penticton.
The first "Balancing our Minds" summit took place in Cleland Theatre at the Penticton Community Centre as between 200 and 250 high school youth from across the region got together for a day to talk about mental health and mental illness, and how to promote it in their schools.
B.C. Children’s Hospital Project Coordinator with Health Literacy’s Paul Irving said two time Grey Cup Champion Shea Emry provided the keynote speech at today’s event, March 10, talking about his own challenges with mental heath and his work with youth on the issue.
The summits provide a safe platform for youth to hear from others affected by mental health challenges.
“Students took part in a youth panel, where they shared their experiences, hoping to pass on the knowledge gained to the rest of the students,” said Irving who said the purpose of the summit was to provide information and education about mental health with a goal towards reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues.
Locally, the Penticton YES project also participated, bringing in resources for kids to take home with them.
“I was really taken aback by the courage of the students and the hard work of all the community organization that made this happen. I think all the students went home pretty inspired," he said. “It was a special day."
Four more summits are scheduled from April to May, taking place in Surrey, Oceanside, the Capital Region District as well as a Northern "Balance Our Minds" summit.
The summits are supported by Canucks for Kids Fund and are an initiative of the BC Children’s Hospital.
Five summits designed to teach youth how to de-stigmatize mental health are taking place over the next two months in five different communities in B.C.
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