In December the Creative Spark was thrilled to receive community funding sponsorship from Lafarge. Funding from Lafarge supports directly Creative Spark programming for the Bow Valley, in particular the Exshaw community and First Nations in Morely Alberta.
Thanks to the generous support of Lafarge the Creative Spark builds on a credible and sustainable program that deals directly with creative problem solving and emotional confidence which together play a huge role in learning development as well as making healthy choices.
Across the Bow Valley there are numerous challenges dealing with the unique relationships between different socio-economic groups and cultures in both student age population but also between school staff and students. Through creative expression the Creative Spark project has shown to break down some of the barriers that exist between these groups, and specifically; aboriginal students, athletic and foreign students, broad socio-economic range and extreme stereotypes. They all come together in the creative activities and challenges presented by the program.
On June 20th 2013 Canmore was the first town to be hit by the Alberta flood. Many towns downstream where hit hard including Exshaw, the City of Calgary and High River.
Immediately following the flood the Creative Spark moved from program development and evaluation of the PSA Pilot (see We’re There For You PSAs) to flood relief and community support programs.
In September the Creative Spark collaborated with the Canadian Mountain Arts Foundation to put on an afternoon of Improv in the Park. In October the Creative Spark collaborated with the Right from the Start – Mental health capacity Building for Children and Families program putting on “Art of the Heart” flood relief activities – a morning of mindfulness and art.
In November the Creative Spark attended the HeartMath: Calm in a Moment training provided by the Bow Valley Wellness, Recovery & Preparedness Committee and Alberta Health Services.
Thanks to the recent Creative Spark Public Service Announcement (PSA) program conducted at Canmore Collegiate High School (CCHS) and in collaborate with other community programs such as Right from the Start and Step Out the Creative Spark – Logon for Mental Wellness program has officially surpassed 1000 student connections linking creative expression and positive mental health.
“Reaching out and connecting to over 1000 students is a huge accomplishment. This would not be possible without tremendous family and community support not to mention the dozens of subject matter experts and program facilitators helping to bring the Creative Spark to life. Of course it is the teenagers themselves that have done the real work helping to reduce the stigma of mental illness and coming up with creative ways to be healthy” Creative Spark founder Rob Heighington.
Canmore Collegiate High School Students use Improv to create Mental Health Public Service Announcements
Canmore Collegiate students have been working with The Creative Spark – Log On for Mental Health project to produce Public Service Announcements (PSAs) written and performed by students. Through a highly creative process CCHS drama students have developed a series of PSAs addressing alcohol and drug abuse, bullying, sexual harassment and the stigma of mental illness.
“Given the nature of social media Public Service Announcements written and performed by students are, in many cases, far more ‘sticky’ and meaningful then those produced professionally by the public health sector” says Creative Spark founder Rob Heighington. “CCHS has shown real courage and wisdom to support this program which, since starting our dialogue to produce the PSAs, has seen a surge of media attention to numerous heart breaking events associated with teen bullying and sexual harassment.”
After initial brainstorming and discussion around mental health issues facing teenagers CCHS drama students used improv skits to workshop their ideas and concepts, some funny, some provocative. The PSAs are then performed using professional video production methods and will be completed and presented to a student assembly in May.
It is important to note the Creative Spark initiative works closely with CCHS guidance counselors, professional mental health advisors, classes are co-facilitated by mental health and addiction councilor with M.S.W, R.S.W. The Creative Spark project is supported by and a grant recipient of the Alberta Healthy School Community Wellness Fund managed out of the University of Alberta
Since 2005 the Creative Spark has been inviting students to explore creative ways to break down the stigma of mental illness, to develop healthy relationships and give them tools to strengthen their own mental wellness.