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Focus on youth issues
Depression, drug abuse, bullying among workshop topics

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In an effort to better understand issues affecting young people today, Yellowknife Catholic Schools (YCS) staff have organized a series of public workshops for all Yellowknife parents beginning tonight at the YCS school board office on 49 Street.

NNSL photo/graphic

Dana Landry poses in an advertisement that ran as part of a widespread media campaign last year, designed to raise awareness of drug and alcohol use among youth. Although the program has been discontinued this year, work continues at schools to raise awareness of various issues commonly faced by young people. - photo courtesy of Weledeh Catholic School

"It has been a while since either district ran either of the workshops around these topics and, you know, it's time," said Merril Dean, student services co-ordinator with YCS. "Informed parents can take action and be preventative. That's really what it's about more than anything."

Issues such as depression, thoughts of self-harm, bullying and drug abuse have been around for generations. However, these issues are now compounded by changes in technology that affect how people communicate with one another.

"What is, I think, perhaps unique about cyber-bullying is, once something goes out on the net, permanency becomes a real issue," said Dean, who will be facilitating the session on cyber-bullying on Feb. 5. "Unlike when it's interpersonal, with two people relating one-on-one in a face-to-face situation ... with the Internet, something is sent out and somebody else may forward it again and again and again."

In an attempt to increase understanding of these issues and work towards preventative solutions, staff at Weledeh Catholic School, with the support of YCS, have organized a series of public information sessions titled Support for our Youth.

Four information sessions are planned as part of this series, one on each of the topics, beginning tonight at the YCS school board office on 49 Street. The sessions have been opened to all three Yellowknife school districts and all parents are welcome to attend, said Weledeh principal Simone Gessler.

"We think it's important to the whole community," she said about the decision to make the workshop series public.

Gessler said the idea of holding these workshops came after organizers of a series of student engagement programs saw positive results last year. At the time, the Yellowknife Committee for the Prevention of Youth Substance Abuse sent facilitators to schools which resulted in the widely popular "Not Us" campaign, in which youth pledged not to consume drugs or alcohol and encouraged those in their community to do the same.

Parents would often contact the school to find out more information on how to help their children avoid drugs and alcohol, which demonstrated a need for more parent outreach, said Gessler. After consideration, it was decided to expand the topics to other related issues.

The first workshop, scheduled for tonight, will focus on depression in youth. Next Tuesday facilitators will discuss thoughts of suicide and self harm in young people. The topic for the following week's session is cyber-bullying.

The workshop series will wrap up on Tuesday, Feb. 12, with discussions focusing on the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol by youth.

Fact file

Supporting our youth workshop series

Who: Hosted by YCS, open to all

What: Four public information sessions for parents and educators focusing on challenges faced by today's youth

Where: Yellowknife Catholic School board office


  • Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. - Depression in youth
  • Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. - Thoughts of suicide and self harm
  • Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. - Cyber-bullying
  • Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. - Drug use and abuse in youth
Source: Yellowknife Catholic Schools

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