Over 140 students gathered, shared stories, and learned about mental wellness strategies on May 11 as Muenster School hosted the Headstrong Youth Summit. Headstrong is a national group supported by the Mental Health Commission of Canada with chapters popping up in schools across the country.  Eight schools from the north central area of the Horizon School Division were represented at the conference, the first such gathering since an event held in Bruno several years ago.

Headstrong is a youth leadership initiative designed to champion mental wellness. The school clubs are largely youth driven with the goal of focusing on resilience, recovery, and positive social action. 

The energy was infectious as Muenster students greeted their guests, took photos, and reconnected. Prize giveaways and breaks to don costume attire for photos punctuated the morning. Carla Jule is a student counsellor for the school division, and she has spearheaded the Headstrong movement in her assigned schools. She explains the makeup of the day.

“We’ve got Laura Lawrence as our keynote speaker. She’s from Melfort and runs Youth Matter. We have five breakout sessions with different speakers on subjects like PTSD, anxiety and depression, addictions, body image, along with a two-spirited presenter.”

Muenster school has over half its high school student body as members of their Headstrong committee, an impressive feat that results in plenty of student help. Two of the key organizers of the conference, students Paige Wuchner and Avery Berezowski, took on the MC duties for the day.

“It’s so exciting, and we’re so glad to have people in our school,” said Berezowski. “It’s nice to see new faces and we’re excited to spread good things about mental health and help get rid of the stigma.” 

Paige Wuchner related all the work that had gone into the conference with the concerted efforts of Carla Jule and Muenster School staff members like MaryAnn Major, Nancy Jefferson and Laurie Warford. 

“It’s been a work in progress, but we’re here and we’re excited to see the outcome from today,” said Wuchner.

Opening videos brought greetings from Tyler Smith, former Humboldt Bronco and survivor of the tragic bus accident. Smith opened up about his own mental health journey following the accident. Muenster School alumnus Kirk Muyres also reflected on his own belief in the importance of maintaining mental wellness practices. 

Along with quizzes, mindfulness breaks and energizing activities, the engaging cast of breakout speakers, and plenty of time for students to reconnect after many months apart, the summit was a spring highlight for students.  Headstrong will continue its work toward promoting mental health awareness as it challenges its attendees to support those around them.