DALE CREATED A SAFE SPACE
Katie was 17 years old when her father died by suicide.
Katie grew up with her mom, dad and younger sister in an active and happy house. When Katie found out that her dad was gone, her mind flooded with an ocean of thoughts. Who would come to all her dance shows to cheer her on as her biggest fan? Who would help her move to university? Who would walk her down the aisle on her wedding day?
Katie quickly put these questions aside and focused on how she was going to take this situation and make something positive out of it. First, she started with a bucket list. She wrote down all the things she wanted to do before she died and posted each thing on Youtube as she completed them, while also reaching out to others by talking about her dad’s suicide. Katie took every opportunity to talk to media outlets about the importance of talking about mental health.
Katie reached out to Dale, the Delisle In-School Counsellor at her high school. After her father’s death, Katie started to visit Dale regularly to talk. Dale created a safe space for Katie to feel comfortable talking about anything, whether it was about her dad, school, or boys. Katie says that she can see that kind of relationship with every student who visits Dale, either for a one-on-one meeting or just a stop-in to get some coffee. Dale keeps his door open for everyone, and Katie knows that her school would not be the same without him.
Katie and her family were the driving force behind a walk in memory of her dad, James. The event is called James' Journey and fundraised dollars go to Delisle Youth Services. To read more about the event, visit the James' Journey page.
Currently I am seventeen. Currently I am on the youth gallery committee. Currently my creativity and artistic abilities are proliferating.
Thanks to this project, I am able not only to be productive 1/7 of the time, but here lies the roots of my confidence in people and in myself. Before joining the gallery, I was the role model of shut-ins, those who think they are pinnacles of laziness, and those who don't wish to have any presence. Fortunately this opportunity came along my way; with closed doors behind my back, an opened door with light behind it was new and exciting to me. That's how it felt like joining this project.
To be honest, it's very difficult for me to write this artist profile. Positively commenting about yourself is like taking gratuitious selfies. Sadly, my ego (which is actually as huge as Jupiter) decided not to kick in right now. Still, in my less than honest opinion, I am glad to be considered by my peers not only as an artist, but a person who has potential to reach out to others, and maybe someday, the world.
SCHOOL WAS NOT FOR ME
Everyday was a fight with my teachers to the point where I had a desk assigned to me in the main office. I couldn't sit still or focus on what teachers were saying so I just didn't go.
Bendale, the school I attended, placed me in a co-op program called Learn and Work. It was for troubled youth who couldn't stay in school. I thought I wanted to be a social worker so they assigned me to Delisle.
I thought I would hate it, working in an office, having to dress up. The first week I barely spoke. I wasn't going to ask for help or say anything.
But everyone was so welcoming and friendly. People came to check up on me and make sure I was ok. Arcangela and Christine made sure I knew what to do.
And so I started to change.
I had the chance to do so many different things: work on a staff newsletter, write an issue for the youth magazine "Speak Up", help with administrative tasks like faxing and photocopying and handling reception, decorating the family room and reception area to make it more youth friendly, and much more.
After being here for 3 days, I was asked to join the youth engagement committee which opened up all kinds of new opportunities.
A new youth centre called The Studio was being opened and I got to play a big part in what happened. I traveled with another co-op student to youth centres all over the city, took pictures, and learned about programming they were doing. We came back and got to help design The Studio. I helped plan the opening events and MC'd for the board and funders, and community partners.
I received training on youth engagement which helped me organize an agency trip to a conference in Ottawa, and I am now planning an 8-week summer program for girls. I am planning the activities and budget.
If I hadn't come to Delisle, I don't know where I would be now. Christine encouraged me to finish high school and to apply for college.
I used to be shy and quiet; nobody believes that now. I have come out of my shell. Delisle brought me up to the door and I have walked through it into another world.