BCHS Art Trading Cards: Mental Health Awareness Week 2017

IMG_4524

Today marked our the final art therapy based project, sponsored by my Spectrum club’s DEHR grant, for the 2016-2017 school year. For information on past projects please check out the following links:

Heart of A Community: BCHS Students Fill Their Hearts

ART THERAPY: We All Wear a Mask

For this final exercise we decided to try an art trading card technique. Art trading cards, are similar to hockey cards, or pokemon cards. The image on the front represents something about a person. The back of the card provides a name and a few details about the person it represents.

Based on our success with past project, we chose to make this a multimedia task with minimal instruction so that our students had plenty of opportunities for personal reflection.

IMG_4502

Students were then asked to complete 3 cards.

  1. To keep
  2. To trade
  3. A final card to contribute to the BCHS commemorative collage.

*although we allowed complete freedom for the first two cards we asked the students to base their third card on what it means to be a member of the Bishop Carroll community

IMG_4503

With Spotify “tunes for the coffee bar” channel streaming in the background. We provided our students with two hours to work on their projects.

The results were amazing.

We are waiting for the last few cards to come in and then we are planning to mat the cards in a single frame in order to create a legacy piece to remember not only Bishop Carroll’s 45th anniversary, but also the year we were able to collaborate between art and counselling thanks to our amazing DEHR grant.

IMG_4521

Thank you ATA.

Sincerely

Mrs. Luong

Better Together: BCHS with the SKCAC

I have the best job in the whole world. This afternoon I was able to I  support my students in sharing their passion for social justice . Our BCHS Youth Champions in partnership the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Center developed the following PSA inorder to promote the power of a positive community.

While brainstorming our ideas, the group focused on the concept that people build confidence when they feel supported by others.

A big thank you to the BCHS Red Cards jazz ensemble who volunteered to perform for our skit. Ms Hedley and the drama department for letting us borrow the theater. Mr. Vizina for allowing us to access the Mac lab for editing. Our amazing school communities such: as the Mental Wellness team, Anime Club, Who’s Frank team, Youth Champions, Youth Volunteer Corps, and Spectrum for allowing us to use their photos. Our admin team, including our very own pink Elephant (aka principal) Mr. O’ Flaherty.

Enjoy

Sincerely

Mrs. Luong

 

 

Aha Moments from ASCA15

School, this year, ended for me on June 26th. However, I was up bright and early on the morning of June 27th excited to be heading for Phoenix and the American School Counseling Association’s National Conference: Spice Up Your School Counseling Program #ASCA15.

11232898_10153257129605845_1764850436116631547_n

This was the first time in my eleven years of school counselling that I attended a conference specifically targeted for Professional School Counsellors. In addition I was excited to meet-up, for the first time face to face, with many of the amazing members of my PLN. People who I had gotten to know online over the last two years through my ePD including #SCin30, #sccrowd and #scchat.

10413395_10153445069854458_6428172893505820556_n

ASCA15, was very moving for me. It was a time to connect with others who could understand my passion for youth and my commitment to instilling hope. While many sessions were very good, I experienced  a few “AHA” moments throughout the conference which will positively influence my counselling programs in the future. I would love to share these treasures with you too.

AHA 1 Stealth Mental Health – Be wherever you’re needed

CImioa-UYAAHPC1

During the Red Cross Training: Foundations of Disaster Mental Health workshop, there was a fantastic co-presenter (I’m sorry I don’t remember her name) who had a fabulous sense of humour. She was a social worker with over 30 years of experience in supporting crisis situations. She reminded us that the most important thing to do when encouraging resiliency, is to read your audience and create an environment where they can feel safe and secure. Language matters: if play therapy sounds threatening, create a “playroom“. Call people survivors and not victims.  She also reminded us that sometimes supporting mental health can be as simple as providing tissues and water.

AHA 2-  It takes a team to build a dream. 

Fredi Lajvardi, is one of the teachers who inspired the movie Spare Parts. His school’s robotics team was also documented in Wired Magazine.

CIoivcLUsAA7xJD

Lajvardi’s inspirational speech encouraged all of us to embrace diversity and  create meaningful relationships because you never know where the next great student will come from. He explained that every student on his team from the special education student to the academically gifted was able to contribute. His special education students were able to provided NEW ideas and outside of the box thinking, which the more academic students were then able to put into practice. This created an innovative working team which was able to achieve more than was ever thought possible.

AHA 3 – Making an Impact with group counselling.

11707811_10153262392990845_4447882916601759042_n Ed Jacobds and I at the session

Ed Jacobs and Christine Schimmel provided an amazing afternoon on Impact Therapy. The primary message being that groups should be directed with a purpose.

Ed and Christine believe that the brain remembers novelty and therefore props can be useful tools in a counselling session. Some of my favorite demos included:

Pop = cloudy thinking Water= clear thinking; even if you are shaken clear thinkers don’t explode

The Bill Part 1 Hold up a bill – how much is this worth? Scrunch it up step on it it’s still worth the same amount – you’re worth it.

The Bill Part 2

Hold a bill folded thin…, is it worth more if its thinner? Hmmm Impacted image used from financialpostcom

Aha 4-  Wii can be a powerful tool in a counsellors office

My previous experience had taught me that sometimes the best conversations with kids don’t happen when we are sitting directly across from each other, but while we are engaged in other activities. Christina Welch’s session provided many examples of how to incorporate video games as school counselling tools.

Some of the suggestions I might try myself include:

Mii development on the Wii How is it like you? How is it different? Use your Mii to practice making friends

Create a bookcraft– Minecraft work based on books

Minecraft build your dream university

Aha 5 – Inclusion does not just benefit students with special needs: It benefits all students

Learning through inclusive communities.

Dr Tim Shriver is not just the embassador for Special Olympics, but he also focuses on the role of Social Intelligence through his book Fully Alive.  His anecdotes were inspirational and he topped it off by teaching us a WE ARE ABLE dance performed by the Unified Sports Team from Kellis High School.

As I move forward in my journey as a school counsellor I will continue to watch for more AHA moments. I love learning from others, so feel free to share you’re own AHA’s with me too.

Take care.

Mrs. L

Supporting Students Who Experience Anxiety

Anxiety is the anticipation of the unexpected. It is a normal part of life. When harnessed it can be a positive force that can encourage us to take a chance and try something new.

However, as with all things in life, too much of anything is not good for you.

When I am explaining the purpose and process of anxiety to a student in my office I will often use visuals. For example the Yerkes Dodson Law, represented below, provides a visual on the impact of extended arousal (or stress) on a person`s ability to perform.

Anxiety are the thoughts and stress are the symptoms.

Strong anxiety can move our bodies into a physical state called the Fight or Flight Response.


 Historically our bodies evolved to protect us from physical threats such as predators. If a cave person wanted to survive they could NOT stop to think about what species of wild cat might be after them. Rather they needed to react.

Today the students in my office do not have to worry about wild cats attacking them.

However the Fight or Flight Response is still often triggered by thoughts about situations we perceive as threatening.

Common topics of concern for high school students often include: athletics,  dating, economics,  family, friendships, peer relationships,  pressure to do well, test taking,  university/college acceptance, and  world events

Don`t worry there is HOPE.

The one thing that makes us uniquely human is our ability to rationally use our brains. If we can learn to become aware of what is happening in our bodies as we are starting to become stressed… we are able to evaluate our situations and determine whether there is actually a threat, or only a perceived one. This allows us to change our thinking patterns, and then move ourselves back into our optimal performance zones.

As a school counsellor I am there to teach my student about the topic of anxiety, help them talk about their fears, and guide them through learning tips and techniques for managing their own anxieties.