From Heartache to Legacy

From Heartache to Legacy

The other night we had the unbelievable opportunity to listen to Carol Todd. She is an amazing speaker who is extremely passionate about what she talks about. Carol Todd is an educator at Amanda Todd Legacy, where she educates parents and teachers about internet safety, mental health awareness and cyberbullying after the death of her daughter, Amanda Todd. Amanda Todd was a 15-year-old girl who took her own life after years of bullying, harassment and sextortion.

If you’ve never heard of Amanda, I would advise you to check out her video below to fully understand.

This video, her video, went viral following her suicide. Amanda dealt with bullying and sextortion, online and in school for 2 years. She was a princess snowflake, as her mom called her who dreamt about singing. After her death, Carol took it upon herself to help educate others on the importance of a child’s digital identity.

Upon hearing about what was happening in class I was very intrigued. I was curious, what would she say? Carol had every right to be angry or upset. Honestly, I expected her to be. I was blown away by how she could turn something so negative into a positive, educational way. If you get a chance to watch her TedTalk on April 16th, you won’t be disappointed.

I would love to be able to summarize her talk but for me, it would be nearly impossible. Kerrie Craske does a fantastic job of that. I would recommend checking out her posts on this talk. For me, I want to focus on to two important pieces of advice Carol gave to the class.

The first one:

When a kid turns 16, you don’t just give them the keys to the car without teaching them how to drive. So why do we hand children an iPad, tablet or cell phone without teaching them how to use it?

*cue explosion noises because my mind is blown* This simple idea is revolutionary and I would have never thought of it. I don’t remember ever getting lessons on it. I mean I wasn’t allowed on any social media site until I was in like grade 10 so maybe that why I didn’t get a lesson. But as you can see More Than Half of Children Use Social Media by the Age of 10. So why are we not educating them? We need to start educating children on the dangers of the internet and how to properly use it. StaySafeOnline.org has interesting activities to teach students ways to use the internet. They have some for k-2, 3-5 and middle & high school. We have to, both parents and educators to start teaching our students, computers are all around us and it will be better when people know how to use online space safely and appropriately.

The second biggest takeaway from the night:

Every single person in this word is unique. Beautiful. Fragile. Alone we can melt and disappear from the world. But together we form a snowball; strong and forceful. We can break just about anything. Carol talks about empathy, and the ability to actually just listen to somebody. Everyone needs someone who they can trust. Parents and teachers are the two most influential people in children’s lives (excluding friends), we must be open to listening to them. Carol deals with trolls in a remarkably classy way.

She is has one classmate says:

I know as a future educator the importance of teaching students to bring each other up instead of tearing each other down will be important both in person and online. I hope to educate the youth the importance of having a good digital identity.

What are ways we can incorporate digital identity in the classroom? What kinds of conversations must we have in order for there to be a change in the world? What were the biggest things you took away from the class? 

Mental Health is Not a JOKE!

Mental Health is Not a JOKE!

I’m on a role two blog post in one week! Go me! After having a rough start this week, I was inspired by Mr. Matthew Lothian blog post about Youth in Politics. I would definitely recommend going and checking out his blog post. I commend him and his school during internship about the political debate they held in their riding (Cypress Hills-Grassland) where they got all four political candidates to come to the school for the evening. But this isn’t what sparked my interest. It was actually what he quoted from U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders that made me decide to write a blog post instead of a comment. Now if anyone has been following the American Election or have been on any sort of social media site in the last couple of months of months you would know that as Mr. Lothian put oh so nicely,

The constant jarring and insults being thrown back and forth among the GOP candidates has been disgraceful. [It} …  resembles something that you may commonly see on a playground  amongst children.  Name calling, jokes on each other’s appearances, and inappropriate sexual genitalia innuendo digs.

At one point in a GOP debate, a “CNN’s closed captioner [was so] fed up with tonight’s GOP debate and doesn’t care who knows it” when they captioned this:

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Watch this hilarious video that someone created of their yelling match.

See when I first heard that Donald Trump was running for the election, I honestly thought it was a joke. Like a serious joke. But now it’s terrifying. One of our professors, Katia Hildebrandt wrote a blog post about why “Trump isn’t funny anymore. So why are we still silent?” She makes some great points and you should go read it. Honestly, as you can see from the video above Trump does NOTHING but talk over others. Obviously, when that happens you don’t get to hear both sides. He is also a sexist, racist (threats and making crowd members raise right hand) But I am getting off track, if you want to read more of Trumps horrible things, check out Katia post.
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What I want to talk about is Bernie Sanders.  Earlier this month in a debate Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton were discussing the GOP. Hilary has some negative comments and Bernie decides to respond with:

“You know, we are, if elected president, going to invest a lot of money into mental health, and when you watch these Republican debates, you know why we need to invest in that.”

It’s supposed to be a joke. I get it. Sort of. But I don’t find it funny. And neither did Twitter. Shortly after the debate, Bernie got some heat from Tweeters about how mental health is not a joke.

You can check out these articles here and here for more tweets.  There has been so much work with ending the stigma around mental health and to call the behaviour of GOP candidates is unbelievable rude, cruel and downright unacceptable. #BellLetsTalk is an awesome organization that helps to end the stigma around mental health. Even in our own community, we were able to come together and raise awareness. Check out our storify story here.

I personally think that Bernie Sanders comment was unnecessary. You not only took a stab the GOP candidates you also took a stab at every single person who is suffering from a mental illness, their family, and friends.

What are your thoughts on Bernie Sanders comment? Did he go to far or should every accept a joke?  I would love to hear all of your thoughts.