Hoping and Coping: Volunteering with Students Living in Ukraine

Sometimes you see something and you just know you cannot pass this opportunity by. That’s what happened to me as I read a post by my friend Marian on Facebook on Alberta Teachers volunteering with students in Ukraine. I then contacted David who coordinates volunteers for Smart Osvita and have never looked back.Your legacy in life is created by each life you touch. This is one way to connect with youth who are presently living in Ukraine that is meaningful. I could not pass this opportunity by.I hope you too chose to volunteer.

“This opportunity is going to be life changing for those kids, but it will also be life changing for Teachers, and School Counsellors and others who deeply care about youth”

 D Falconer adapted by @sspellmancann

A Volunteer Opportunity

If you are interested in volunteering on your own please contact David Falconer (see below) , but if you’d like to co-present with me please contact me at @sspellmancann on twitter

Background

David Falconer dffalconer@gmail.com . Volunteer recruiter Principal in Nunavut. More about David and his volunteer work with NGO Smart Osvita   

David signed on to a program that gives children who are presently living in Ukraine hour-long virtual lessons where they get to learn about a place in the world, or a topic of interest. The goal is to provide the youth with an hour that they can escape from their worries and focus on their well-being. So fortunately for me I got to present with my co-workers and wellness team Sheila Stacey and Deanne Arada two amazing counsellors who are passionate about making a difference for young people.

Ukrainian children log in to Zoom sessions at whatever location they can, then Falconer , teachers, School Counsellors and others tell them about life where they are and / or present a lesson. Our goal is to make it interactive , provide as much Canadian content as possible while being fun and letting youth escape the worries of the world.

Falconer has had up to 250 people taking part,in his sessions  providing Ukrainian children “an hour where they can dream and be totally separated from their current reality.” There are thousands of displaced students needing this support. 

Falconer said the lessons being organized are supposed to be educational, but “ultimately, the goal is to have these kids know that people care and indeed that is what we hoped as well. We have completed three sessions and plan on many more and we sincerely hope you do too. Our ultimate goal is to leave them feeling uplifted and hope filled and from their feedback we believe we accomplished this so far.

It is so important to not retraumatize youth providing them with a sense of safety allowing for activities that help them feel truly connected . When planning sessions presenters need to be mindful of this.

For youth who are affected by trauma, the teacher / school counsellor play an even more vital role. Volunteering in this capacity does makes a difference.

What You May Want to Know:

You can do this!!!! It’s fun and a great way to make a meaningful contribution. Feeling powerless like you can’t do anything …well yes YOU CAN, The students so appreciate what you do. They are absolutely amazing. The interpreter is so helpful and positive.You don’t have to do this alone. Find a co-fascilitator. We planned our sessions together and did a run through before each session which was so, so beneficial. We know you will love this experience too. So jump in and do it, you will be so glad you did!

Resources:

These are some potential resources for you, some may be applicable , so please use what works for you. Just be yourself, share some of your life and most importantly pass on a little hope.

Send a message to the people of Ukraine. We’ll translate it.


Please remember to practice self-care and share how you do with the youth. You will be in the presence of extraordinary acts of courage as you connect with these young people. Embrace all the moments.

Nova Scotia … be careful it may get a hold your heart and never let go.

Each year for the past forty two years I have returned home to Nova Scotia. I guess you could say it tugs at my heart every year. If you want to find tranquility and have a good time, I’m betting it will yours too . It’s not just the place, it’s the people and the way of life that make it a place I long to return to as the summer draws near.

If you are thinking of going there are a few places I would recommend. Of course number one for me would be Cape Breton often named the #1 island to visit in Canada and North America. It’s a beautiful little Island with so much character and fun things to do.

Here are my TOP 10 places to visit in Cape Breton for a good time:

  1. Louisbourg is a great little town to check out. You can stroll along the fabulous 2km Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail where you will enjoy the sounds and sights of the ocean. It is always one of my favourite things to do. A few places you might like to stay are the Louisbourg Harbour Inn a lovely B and B , where you will be treated to a fabulous place to stay, a welcoming host and great food . For a new adventure you can try the newly renovated North Star owned and operated by down to earth celebrities Justin and Colin who will no doubt make this a memorable experience you won’t soon forget. You can also enjoy a great meal at Highway 22 or the newly opened Spoondrift Cafe  where you can expect a tasty meal made from some of the best locals. Of course you won’t want to miss visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg where you will take a step back in time to the 1700’s. For the past few summers I have visited the fortress and each time I enjoy something new.
Processed with MOLDIV Enjoying a brunch with Colin and Justin and the girls 2021.

2. The Miners Museum in Glace Bay is always a favourite of mine on a rainy day. You get to go down in the mines with a retired miner who will sweep you away with real stories of heroic men and women.

3. Cabot Links in Inverness is an amazing place for golfers , it’s also where my favourite beach in Nova Scotia is. You can spend hours walking up and down the beach. There is nothing like the smell of the ocean , the sound of the waves and warm sand beneath your feet while spending time with one of your best friends.

4. The Skyline Trail is worth the stop. The 6.5 km walk is definitely worth the view. It will not disappoint.

5. The beautiful village of Baddeck is a nice place to go sailing or enjoy a lobster dinner.

6. Ingonish on the Cabot Trail offers a great place to relax, swim and have fun. Try staying a day or two at the Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa.

7. Out on the Mira. Well it’s really my number 1 as we have a bungalow (cottage) there. Nothing better than a good swim in the Mira River or a kayak ride on the 55 km ( 34 mile ) meandering river. It’s my home away from home , it feeds my soul and I love it there. Be sure to stop at Mullins Rite Stop on the Louisbourg Highway and pick up a fresh loaf of bread and some treats on your way to wherever you are staying.

OUT ON THE MIRA …

8. Sydney the historic capital of Cape Breton. If you did not stop there on the way to Louisbourg then turn around and go back and make sure you have a bite at Flavour on the Water or Governors. A stroll along the harbour is always a good thing.

9. Cheticamp a place rich in Acadian culture. Be sure to stop by the Doryman for some music and memories.

10. The Cabot Trail is a must, but in the fall it is glorious. The 300 km loop of the trail, weaves around the incredible coast of Cape Breton with magnificent views.

I guarantee Cape Breton and all of Nova Scotia with more than 7,400 kilometres of coastline will hold a place in your heart forever and you will want to go back. Yes indeed , you must go back to see all the wonderful things it has to offer music, ceilidhs, the people , the vistas and so much more. Don’t leave home without the Doers and Dreamers guide so you can find out what is happening wherever you may travel. Cape Breton is but a beginning.

We Don’t Age Out Of Learning

Photo by Peter Olexa on Pexels.com

How fortunate am I to still be connected with youth. I love their energy and it helps me realize that I am still a learner. Being in an online school is interesting and challenging. It forces me to continue to learn new skills. I need to find multiple ways to connect with students and staff which forces me to learn new technology skills.

I love collaborating , so working with a team that is full of ideas invigorates me. As we work together to create a group for students online, I am reminded of the joy that learning can bring.

So just for today I will enjoy a cup of tea, learn something new and be excited that we never age out of learning. What are you learning these days?

The Best Yet To Be

I was honoured to be asked to speak to a group of amazing women at Words of Wisdom this morning and you too can join in any Sunday. What personal wisdom if any I have is nothing new, but my experiences have helped shape me into who I am and how I became a person full of optimism and hope.

I started off my session with taking a few spins on these wheels, you may wish to take a few spins too here and here. It’s a fun way to escape the worries of the world.

Here are the slides from my presentation:

I hope you can see that around the bend . There is much to be grateful for and the best is yet to be. Had I not had a worldview that felt and believed in hope , I am not sure how my life would have turned out.

My wish for you is that you can see the best is yet to be.

Meichenbaum Matters

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

There are some therapists who contribute more than others to the helping professions and Donald Meichenbaum is one of them. I have been privileged to attend a couple of his trainings. If you ever get the chance I suggest you sign up for one. I love that he has so generously given us resources that are not only practical, but helpful. If you are a School Counsellor/ Psychologist or Psychotherapist I know you will enjoy his book the Roadmap to Resilience . Bonus it’s free.

Thank you Dr. Meichenbaum for all the work you do with the melissa institute to help othersl

Nova Scotia Hugs

I am often asked where to go in Nova Scotia. If you are looking for a few tips let this be your guide.

TIPS 4 YOU

Stay tuned for more to come.

A- Z Tips for Alcohol Inks

  • Anything goes, have fun.
  • Be like a child and create.
  • Create, don’t critique.
  • Don’t give up … Don’t be afraid to try new things … pour and play.
  • Experiment with different papers like Yupo and different inks.
  • Forget about your worries and create art instead.
  • Get your space ready to play.
  • Have a blast. 
  • Imagine all the great things you will create.
  • Just be yourself and create what makes you happy.
  • Kindness matters when you start out. Everyone can do art and we all get better with time.
  • Let go and let it flow.
  • Mistakes make marvelous art pieces.
  • Music brings out the creativity in you . Listen while you create.
  • Practice , Practice, Practice.
  • Quit saying you can’t … you can!
  • Relax and let the paint take you away.
  • Safety matters, ventilation and masks make for a safe work space.
  • Trust the process.
  • Uplift friends who are new to alcohol inks.
  • Visualize what you’d like to create, then do it!
  • Watch lots of artists’ YouTube videos.
  • XO from me to you.
  • You’ve got this!
  • Zazzy that’s you and so will your paintings be.

The Best Is Yet To Be

As I put away my Christmas decorations for another year I reflect and acknowledge that although it has been a very quiet time with just my husband and I and not the Christmas I had hoped for; I also recognize that I have so much to be grateful for. So many have heartbreaks and challenges that are unimaginable at this time of year, leaving many families with much grief and sadness.

I need hope in my life. So I must look at each day expecting that the best is yet to be. That things will get better and even if this year brings more Covid and life challenges, I will look at what I can do not what I can’t to make this year the best it can be.

It’s A New Year … It’s A New Day

2021 was an extremely challenging year for me. Loss, Covid in many of my family members, eye issues (plenty of those), plus many other unpleasant life experiences, so I need a new story for this next chapter. I need to bring passion back into my life. Life will always bring us tough times, some years more than others.

In 2022,

  • I will look forward to each day, creating new ways to find hope for myself.
  • I will do new things.
  • I will change my story to one of true acceptance of all the things I cannot change.
  • I will focus on opportunities instead of obstacles.
  • I will give more love to myself and those around me.
  • I will remember to be grateful that I am alive and acknowledge that I have much to look forward to.
  • I will choose to live fully as much as humanly possible each day.
  • I will be a better version of myself.
  • I will recognize that I am human and will have sad times, but I will not stay in those feelings.

I’m not finished yet and neither are you. It’s a new year … it’s a new day to really live. #walkalongwithme