Published: May 3, 2017
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
Lifesavers are being offered to students in the district as a way of bringing awareness and support of strong mental health and suicide prevention.
Thanks to a group of dedicated individuals and organizations, programming is now available at the Red Lake District High School to engage teenagers in a dialogue on healthy behaviours.
“We are constantly looking for things that give the kids something healthy to do, and fun,” said Kathy Tetlock founding member of the Red Lake Youth Suicide Prevention Taskforce, a title that she says was shortened to Lifesavers recently, a nod to the nautical flotation devise.
“In 2013 I called people in town because I thought we needed to have a committee to share resources – different agencies, different people – to find out what everybody was doing so that we know that there is a system in place, that there is something being done about prevention or after a traumatic event.”
Tetlock says the death of her son Ryan in 2006 from suicide has driven her to work with others on prevention and awareness.
“I want to prevent others from going through that pain. I want kids to know that we care.”
Earlier this year a funding proposal submitted to the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Children and youth – Dare to Dream program was green lighted, providing the group, which is made up of Firefly, the Northwestern Health Unit, the OPP, the Red Lake District High School, New Starts for Women, the Red Lake Indian Friendship Centre and Community Counselling and Addiction Services, with $5,000 in funding.
The funds are being used to host workshops, presentations and activities for high school age youth, says Tetlock.
“We are not always just talking about suicide, it is mental health, awareness, everything…every month we are working on an activity and we bring mental health into it in a roundabout way.”
Guidance Counsellor and Student Services Leader Nicole Kristoff says targeted programs are necessary to inform youth of community services.
“This program is important to have in the community because students often say that they need places to hang out and things to do. Giving students activities, support and positive places to go is important to allow students to build relationships with their peers and adults in their community. The more healthy relationships that we can build the greater the chances that they feel supported and know where to turn when they need support.”
On May 5 the Lifesavers are hosting a digital photography workshop with Harriet Carlson and are working on rescheduling an art workshop with Patrick Hunter in June.