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  • Helping youth through tough times

    Synergy uses Wellness Education to support local youth

    youth

    youth

    With final exams looming next month for local students, Synergy is continuing to help youth find healthy ways of handling their stress.
    “It kind of forms the fundamental basis of a lot of our programs where we incorporate wellness education into each program,” said Synergy Youth Program Facilitator Terry Gill.
    While not a specific program offered by Synergy, Gill said that they do have a focus on youth wellness that forms a component of all their programing.
    “We talk about what we can do for wellness,” he said.
    Through wellness education strategies, synergy works to help youth to be healthy both physically and mentally.
    “When we think wellness, a lot of times we go straight to who’s sick or who’s healthy,” said Gill.
    While physical health is important, ensuring mental health in Chestermere’s youth is equally important.
    Gill said that the statistics across Canada and globally are pretty bad when it comes to youth mental health.
    “Students are so burdened with a full schedule, packed schedule that they are starting to burn out and their grades suffer,” he said.
    If these stresses and anxieties are left to grow, they can turn into worse problems like depression, anxiety.
    When the youth engage in the programs at Synergy and can participate in the programs and wellness discussions the youth are able to find healthy ways to handle their stress.
    “We talk about it in a more preventative way,” said Gill, “and how do you not get to the point of depression or anxiety or self-harm or suicidal ideation.”
    Staff at Synergy will speak with youth who participate in the programing there in a variety of ways.
    “A lot of time whether it be coffee talk which is more a social conversational circle or our youth council we talk about the importance of wellness education,” said Gill.
    They discuss strategies such as taking a step away from social media platforms, to meditation and mindfulness to seeking out and building relationships with peers and mentors.
    And youth who present an increased risk of mental health are referred to counselors although part of the goal of wellness education is to help prevent things from escalating to that point.
    “Wait list time for seeing counselors any kind of mental health clinician can sometimes be up to a year,” said Gill.
    In addition to having a positive impact on the lives of local youth, Gill said that the program also has a positive effect on the community.
    A Big Brother Big Sisters study showed that for every dollar invested in youth mentoring there was $18 in return on that investment in the community.
    At risk youth who are left unsupported often fall down a dark path said Gill.
    “Whether its suicidal ideation, delinquency and all that kind of stuff,” he said.
    When this happens the impact on the community is negative.
    However, when these same youth are supported and provided the resources to make a difference in their lives, the opposite occurs.
    “They do better in school, they get involved in more community-based programs,” said Gill.
    In Chestermere this can be seen in the hundreds of volunteer hours that Synergy youth provide to the community.