School District 69 Grade 7 students pick the brain of the White Hatter Brandon Laur, who talke about digital safety and cyberbullying at the Second Grade 7 Health and Wellness Conference that was held at the Parksville Community Conference Centre on April 30. — Michael Briones photo

Qualicum district Grade 7s get help as they move to high school

Conference help students with variety of issues

The Grade 7 Health and Wellness Conference has become an invaluable tool in helping young students prepare for their big move to high school.

After a successful debut last year, School District 69 (Qualicum) deemed it an educational asset and hosted it again at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre on Tuesday, April 30.

The conference was comprised of sessions geared to help youth connect with resources and educate them in regards to various health topics related to adolescence and transitioning to high school.

More than 300 Grade 7 students participated and listed to featured guest speakers that touched on variety of topics that include digital safety, brain health, puberty, relationships, stress and various issues.

As well, there were some students who came out and shared their experiences answering questions on what transitioning to secondary school can look like.

One of the new guest speakers this year was Brandon Laur of Personal Protection Systems, also known as the White Hatter, who touched on digital literacy and internet safety.

“I shared with students… making them critical think about how to use technology in a safe and appropriate way,” said Laur. “I showed them a couple of examples of good things and some not so good things, making them critically think about how their technology usage today can affect them later on. Students also learned about cyberbullying issues.”

When giving lectures, Laur always wear a white hat, which he says gives them a visual identity that students could easily recall.

“They never remember my name but they always remember the hat,” said Laur. “We offer our services to students where we say to students if you are online and you’re in trouble and need help, by all means you can message us on social media. We have students messaging us all the time.”

Another new guest this year was rapper SirReal, who touched on brain health issues. He uses the art of rapping as a tool to raise issues about mental health. Other presentations include E.N.I.T.Y., Island Health Discovery Youth and Family Substance Use Services, and Aimee Falkenberg, Forensic Health Nurse.

Organizer Kris Isenor of SD69 said this is a way to honour the Grade 7 students on successfully achieving a part of their journey towards their next stage of their education, which is high school.

Last year, Isenor said, the students feed back last year was instrumental in having SD69 stage this event again this year. He hopes it will be held again next year.

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