On February 15th, 2020, at the Lansdowne Park Horticulture Building, young leaders and guest speakers gathered for Ottawa’s first ever Generation SDG Summit. Generation SDG is an initiative by the United Nations Association in Canada in which youth between the ages of 14 and 17 create service projects that focus on improving their communities based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Generation SDG Summit was a day dedicated to celebrating the successes of the SDG ambassadors. With talks by the ambassadors and special guests including Thierry Lindor and Autumn Peltier, the UNAC hosted a remarkable event that inspired many. Attendees spent the day networking with local leaders and entrepreneurs, listening to moving speeches and celebrating the Gen SDG ambassadors’ initiatives.
Master of Ceremonies, Dahabo Ahmed Omer, led attendees through the day’s events which began with an ice breaker led by UNAC’s educational partner, Apprends & Entreprends. Opening ceremonies and welcoming remarks followed which included a drum circle performed by the Ottawa River Singers and the national anthem performed by the Ottawa Regional Youth Choir.
Throughout the day, Gen SDG members presented their initiatives and projects. Presentations relating to the Sustainable Development Goals were sectioned into series, each with a different theme. These included the planet, peace and prosperity, people, and partnerships. Within the Peace and Prosperity theme, the Star of Life Project founder, Daniel Bersyniow, spoke about the organization and how it came into existence: “Seeing the need to create a more sustainable future, where every youth has the proper access to healthcare that they deserve, we formed the Star of Life Project to provide centrical solutions. We are constantly trying to innovate and implement solutions that benefit our community.” As a partner of the UN, the Star of Life Project works in line with the Sustainable Development Goals - focusing on goals such as #3: Good Health & Wellbeing, SDG #17: Partnership For The Goals, among others.
Other featured speakers included Valerie Leloup, founder and CEO of NU Grocery; Justin Holness, founder of TR1BE Academy; and other SDG ambassadors. Wrapping the day up was a live performance by Caveboy, a Montreal-based indie pop band. All together, the Gen SDG Summit made for an inspiring celebration of the ambassadors’ achievements and the UN’s progress towards a brighter future.
In January 2020, The Star of Life Project held a mental health week in preparation for exams for the students of Sir Robert Borden High School. This project was a huge collaborative effort within the school, bringing in the help of SRB’s Guidance Department, Student Council and the Student Success Team. In addition, the Star of Life Project also had the amazing opportunity to work with partners outside of the school, such as Ottawa Public Health. As part of the effort, posters and infographics promoting mental health were displayed throughout the school leading up to and during the main events.
The main goals of the event were simple: to improve students’ skills to deal with stress, to help promote awareness of mental health, and to provide a means of relaxation and distress management in the run-up to exams.
During the week before exams, students of Sir Robert Borden were able to participate in daily activities around the school, with the purpose of promoting mental health among the student body. The week began with a seminar presented by an Ottawa Public Health nurse on how to deal with stress. Many students had the opportunity to ask important health-related questions to a licensed professional. The following day saw a presentation by students and faculty from Ottawa University on how to take exams. This meant that students not only learned a trick for high school exams but also tips for University right from the source. After that, students were able to get up and move with yoga instructors from Carleton University. Students learned yoga poses for relaxation while also having fun with their friends. The next day brought together large groups of students to study. A mass study session was held in the cafeteria for any student in any course. Students got to learn from their teachers, classmates and those who had already taken the class as they enjoyed complimentary cookies and hot cocoa.
Overall, Mental Health Week gave students a chance to slow down from the rush of exams and learn what it means to focus on their own wellbeing. The impact has been seen all over the school by both students and staff alike. The amount of pressure students can feel is immense, and finding ways to ease that stress can positively impact them in the long run. Several students reported having the best exam season of their high school careers, and with some of the techniques and habits they learned, they will continue to thrive.