A recipient of the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund the Creative Spark – Logon for Mental Wellness program is pleased to announce the Building Dreams to Believe In project has completed Phase One – Creative Expression at Canmore Collegiate High School CCHS grades 10 to 12. Phase Two – Mental Health Support Information Environmental Scan has already begun.
Thanks to our growing team of Creative Spark volunteers and a new Managing Director Phase One was completed just before the Winter Holidays. As Phase two is completed student and teacher evaluations are processed along with a report that will be shared with all community Stakeholders. Phase Three – Online Portal & Train the Trainer is under development and set to launch in May.
Congratulations and a special thanks to all the students participating in the current program, your preliminary feedback has already provided the Creative Spark with extremely valuable information in support of creative expression and mental wellness in your community.
Continuous Refresh: Based around the art program first run in 2006 the Creative Spark team is continuously refreshing and adding new elements to classroom activities. This is just one aspect of the Creative Spark sustainment promise.
Thanks to our ‘home school’ CCHS, principal Chris Rogers and Art teacher extraordinaire Shannon Amey the Creative Spark team has run new and engaging activities focused around psychological resilience. These include creative problem solving and developing confidence with students to embolden achievable dreams while learning creative ways to overcome both predictable and new obstacles students will face in the future. Phase One could not have been accomplished without the support of CCHS and our new team of Creative Spark facilitators and volunteers.
Walk-About: Taking a big step out the Creative Spark conducted a “Walk About” class run by Martha McCallum, BSc, MEDes and certified Hakomi mind/body psychotherapist. This was the first time an entire Creative Spark class was held outdoors whereby the Building Dreams theme was applied along trails, at the river bank and during a period of silent reflection in the forest. At first student feedback was uncertain but as the indoor classes continued key elements of the Walk-About played out in remarkable ways. In particular many students found the outdoor time set aside for self reflection ‘felt forced’ and ‘awkward’ at first. Subsequently, however, most recalled the experience as increasingly positive and applied their self reflection directly towards the Building Dreams to Believe In creative activities and program objectives.
Group Mandala: Further embracing our sustainment model that calls for new ideas and student input, starting with this project The Creative Spark is pleased to be working with Cassandra Cornacchia from Toronto, Ontario a 4th year Ryerson University Student studying Social Work completing her final practicum and graduating this year. Cassandra combines a unique set of experience and skills relating directly to the Creative Spark model linking creative expression with mental health. Cassandra introduced an engaging approach to designing a class ‘Mandala’ depicting common dreams, barriers and solutions on a large paper tablet. The Group Mandala will be mounted and presented to the school as part of the Phase Two assembly which ensures the greater school population benefits from Creative Spark’s mental health information exchange.
Also thanks to Claire Peterson a recent graduate of CCHS and Creative Spark volunteer. In addition to helping facilitate the various art activities Claire provided an important local and youth perspective on what engages senior high school students and what areas need attention. Local volunteers and community stakeholder involvement are key tenets of the Creative Spark program.
Of course input from CCHS Art teacher Shannon Amey was paramount providing interesting anecdotes, valuable tips and intuitive support throughout every class, the Creative Spark program has benefited directly from her input. Other support staff include Don Peterson with the Creative Spark and support teacher Andrea Mann.
In preparation for Phase One The Creative Spark met with Addiction Counsellor Carla Kembel, M.S.W., R.S.W.. Along with the school guidance councillor Carla has been a tremendous support to the Creative Spark program. Currently underway, a key Phase Two objective is: ‘Talk to the three community groups (school, provincial health and community services) to establish what common information around mental health support and services are available in the community. Identify any gaps and/or discrepancies passing all information back to all three community groups, what we call the Creative Spark Community Mental Health Information Trifecta.
The Creative Spark does not produce mental health support information directly, we leave that up to key community and provincial stakeholders. Given the nature of our program, however, the Creative Spark is obliged to ask questions informally to see what information is out there for students and their families and where are the gaps. This is done in a strictly collaborative sense and all our findings are shared with all participating stakeholders.
All Creative Spark new activities are first run by an advising committee of education and mental-health professionals including the school principal, guidance counsellors, teachers, doctors, mental health counsellors and community social workers. Also, Creative Spark classes are designed to fit closely to curriculum with a priority to support teacher instruction and planned student learning.
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