Jake Matheson

Jake Matheson

Uplands Park Elementary first in B.C. to partake in youth summit

NANAIMO – Nanaimo school students explore interests in Youth Empowerment Summit 2 Know Wednesday.

Uplands Park Elementary School students were part of the first-ever elementary school in B.C. to participate in the Youth Empowerment Summit 2 Know Wednesday.

The one-day event saw speakers talking to students about a number of topics, including brain development and social media use, and students spoke with people in the community, including Nanaimo Clipper players, school district trustees and staff, about what interests them.

Lisa Robinson, school principal, was excited that her school was first elementary school in the province and said the summit was coordinated with Cpl. Dave Cusson, with RCMP Strategic Prevention Services.

“It’s an empowerment summit for our youth … it’s just that empowerment to allow students to make good choices for themselves for now and for the future,” said Robinson.

Robinson said in talking to community members, students find out what inspires people and in turn make good choices for themselves in the future.

A seminar by Gary Anaka, a brain-based learning facilitator, on brain health, was something that stoked the interests of students.

“I thought it was really cool to know about my brain and how it works because I [didn’t know] about that,” said Justin McGregor, a Grade 7 student.

“I was surprised about learning about how much impact alcohol can have on your brain,” said Jake Matheson, another Grade 7 student.

“I really didn’t know that much … so it’s definitely a lot more now that I know about my brain,” said Erin Murphy, McGregor and Matheson’s classmate.

Cpl. Scott Hilderley, RCMP South Island Strategic Prevention Services coordinator, hopes that students do more than just learn from the event.

“Knowledge is not power unless it travels from the head down to the heart,” said Hilderley. “So this is more about giving them information and teaching them some hard facts. More than that, it’s about inspiring them to incorporate those facts into their day-to-day life.”