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Hillcrest’s Star of Life Club was established in 2020 and is led by the passionate co-presidents Ahmed Yasin and Charlie Levine. In the club’s first year at Hillcrest, the Star of Life Project formed a strong and growing presence in its school community with its initiatives to create a healthier future for all generations. In November, the Star of Life club worked to honour veterans with a commemorative Remembrance Day video. In December, their team held a fundraiser for COVID-19 kits by setting up donation boxes around the school to provide equity in reducing the risk of illness with proper access to Personal Protective Equipment. Following these initiatives, club members worked on a gaming fundraiser to provide a fun and accessible event to improve students’ mental health and to raise money for KIVA, an organization that provides entrepreneurial opportunities for women and refugees across the world. The club has continued to spread positivity and increase engagement with their April Fools gram. With this initiative, students were able to share funny messages to provide an opportunity for social interaction during a time where students are more isolated than ever. With a focus on expanding its club to increase engagement and positivity at school, the Star of Life club at Hillcrest club played an important role in improving our community.
From everyone at The Star of Life Project, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Alex Dugal, and Viral Clean Ottawa for donating over 5000 masks on February 9th, 2021. The current pandemic has been an arduous time for many people, and the need for masks and other safety measures has never been more evident. Through your invaluable contribution, The Star of Life Project's PPE Drive has been a tremendous success! We want to thank you for your donation and for supporting the Indigenous community. The team and volunteers at The Star of Life Project greatly appreciate your generosity and kindness. Your philanthropy will undoubtedly help improve countless lives.
You can find out more about them at https://viralclean.ca/
For those in preparation for post secondary education in the present climate, YSC’s 2020 Engineering Conference is in the works. Aiming to provide students with a chance to learn about the STEM program and to inspire youth, we are working to tackle major obstacles that have arisen due to COVID-19. Our mission is to bring the STEM program into light and anneal the gap between secondary and postsecondary education for future students. Partnering with the Star of Life Organization, the upcoming November conference is expected to project the wide variety of opportunities in the STEM program and future possibilities within the industry. A diverse range of current post-secondary participants in the field will be incorporated into the conference to give a personal talk about their experiences, as well as helping students engage with their skill sets and build upon them. At such a trying time where everything is so fluid, this training seminar will hopefully bring some closure to the confusion that runs among secondary school students and bring awareness to the boundless potential of the STEM field.
On August 30th 2020, the Star of Life Board of Directors got together to explore Calabogie Peak Resorts Eagles Nest trail. With their hiking shoes tied and backpacks filled with snacks, they convened for the hour drive to Calabogie at 10:30 AM.
After taking necessary COVID precautions, they set upon their hike. Seeing a plethora of birds and small animals, the group trekked through the gravelly road in mutual silence, getting in tune with their surroundings. Walking on a path that was formerly used to harvest hardwood and pine logs from the area. The trail is used by all-terrain vehicles such as motorbikes, of which the Board of Directors had the pleasure of seeing many.
After a quick four kilometers uphill, the group appreciated the stunning view that they had in front of them. With scattered greenery and a 120 meter cliff, the Board enjoyed a scenic lunch. Shortly after, they went into their first team bonding activity (and chocolate chip cookies). The Directors exchanged anonymous letters of encouragement and appreciation to their randomly selected counterparts.
Following the well received letters of regard, the Board of Directors steamed ahead with their planned day. Bringing along with them a special item, they prepared to plant their time capsule in a location that they will go back to at the end of the 2021 school year. From bracelets to pictures, the mason jar was filled and buried into the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Algonquin peoples.
After taking a moment to explore and appreciate the gorgeous view around them, the Board of Directors participated in a productive photoshoot! In which, they had buckets of fun in recreating oddball poses (like a simultaneous jumping jack)! During the photoshoot, the group got together to play their two organized team bonding activities, Back-To-Back Drawing and a Scavenger Hunt. After creating side-splittingly funny drawings and running around the richest woodland, they got together to hike for another two kilometers.
Conscious of time, they began their descent at approximately 5:15 PM. Completing a near ten kilometer hike, the Board was ready to finish their day with the drive back to Ottawa and a socially distanced dinner. Indulging in Five Guys, the group enjoyed themselves for another few hours. Wrapping things up at around 8:30 PM, with a newfound sense of camaraderie and fellowship, the Board of Directors brought their day to a close.
As people experience profound and rapid changes in their lives, it is essential to come together with concern and benevolence for our communities and citizens, to ensure the wellbeing and safety of one another. We understand that these times are difficult, and that our future is uncertain but we must remember that we are all in this together. It may be difficult to remain hopeful when faced with loss and uncertainty however Canadians have many reasons to continue to have hope, even in the most trying times.
We hope that you, your loved ones, and your colleagues are safe and well. This experience has certainly had a drastic impact on our daily lives by altering how we go about our daily lives as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Now more than ever, we must do the right things and be prepared to take steps beyond what we’re typically required to do.
Across Canada, communities continue to care for the most vulnerable and to provide a lending hand to their fellow neighbors, friends and communities. We are grateful for their dedication and for the hope they offer. The Star of Life Project understands that these actions of kindness are essential to not only helping our communities during these times, but also keeping us united. For which reason, we have come to a decision to take our assistance efforts online.
Our dedicated group of youth volunteers have stepped up to help our elders in various communities across Ottawa. A particular demographic that is more vulnerable than others, are the elderly. In this time where their own loved ones can not visit them, it goes without saying that they may feel isolated and lonely. Our, ‘Make a Smile’ program hopes to relieve some of the stress and loneliness that these people may be feeling with a joyful and friendly phone call. Our youth volunteers aim to put a smile on every elders face that they may speak with by bringing in hope and support through engaging conversations that focus on the positives of life.
In addition to making phone calls, The Star of Life Project will be executing a, ‘Grocery Shopping for Seniors and Vulnerable Members’ initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative serves the purpose of protecting the vulnerable members of our community by relieving them of needing to go grocery shopping out in public. Many citizens who are not as vulnerable to the virus continue to shop at grocery stores on a regular basis in order to provide for their family. The Star of Life Project recognizes that those who occasionally go to stores could easily purchase groceries requested by seniors and deliver them. Members of the community can access this service online through our Facebook portal. This service is open to all and we encourage those who can go out to volunteer to help their community.
Finally, we would like to thank all healthcare workers for the sacrifices that they make to keep us safe. They are the heroes that will get us through this. To everyone in the medical community, you are truly our heroes and we are so grateful.
Stay positive and always remember that we will get through this together.
The Star of Life Team
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.