Recognizing life’s heroes

A 12-week Heroes program builds on strengths rather than looking at problems.

From bottom left

Trustworthy. Generous. Kind. Honest. Reliable.

These words were part of something of a transformation going on in a Grade 8 classroom recently.

Students were in their ninth week of the 12-week Heroes program, where they were learning a new language of sorts.

“It gets them to search within themselves, things they wouldn’t normally touch on,” says teacher Erin Janowsky of the program. “I think they actually quite enjoy it. In some ways it’s challenging…”

On one recent Wednesday morning, the students, with the participation and support of three SilverBacks hockey players, were drawing on their explorations in earlier classes to come up with an individual mission statement, or purpose, for themselves.

“They came up with beautiful mission statements – really powerful and inspiring,” said Janowsky.

She’s thrilled the students are taking part in the pilot program being offered at Shuswap Middle School.

“I would coin this as ‘ the real life’ curriculum. I think it’s one of the most important things these kids will learn.”

Teaching the Heroes program is Venee Gunn, a teacher by training but, in this instance, a volunteer. Her relationship with the program began in Guatemala, where her family was working in a home with children who had been apprehended from their families. Some teachers volunteering there were in the midst of translating the Heroes program into Spanish.

When Gunn returned to Canada, she learned the program was being taught in Alberta, so she went there to train. Schools in Vancouver are using it, she said, but none in the Okanagan-Shuswap.

“It builds from strengths rather than looking at problems, which really attracted me to the program,” Gunn says, explaining that it focuses on three things – building confidence, integrity and character.

The program defines a hero as someone who uses their gifts and abilities to make a positive change in themselves and others.

“What we’re teaching is that everyone is a hero and has the potential to live like one,” says Gunn. “It’s a self-discovery program is what it is. It’s discovering you have gifts and abilities and you have a desire to succeed. It helps them discover these things and find purpose for themselves. That’s what I really love about it.”

During this class, the students – and SilverBacks – share their homework with the rest of the students. The questions require answers from the heart. Questions like ‘what are you good at?’ ‘what is an accomplishment of yours?’ and ‘what do you want to be known for?’

Gunn said she invited the SilverBacks to participate for a number of reasons.

“It brings youth – something closer to their age – and mentorship… It’s really important to the success of the program,” she says, pointing out that when the students hear the hockey players give their answers first, they relate and their fears are diminished.

On this particular day, Shane Hanna, Bryden Marsh and Blake Box are present, but Gunn says many members of the team have attended over the course of the program.

After the SilverBacks and students share their mission statements with the class, to praise from Gunn, she tells students the statements don’t change; their essence remains.

“Could anyone tell you now you don’t have a purpose? No. You have a compass,” she says, encouraging the students to read the statements when they go to bed at night and when they wake up in the morning.

“It’s really rewarding,” says Gunn of her experience teaching the program. “Today, I think, was a good measure of the success of the program. If they can come up with a mission statement of their own, I am really pleased with what they retained even though they only see me once a week. The teachers are here and hear it – they can carry it on. A positive language is created that’s common to students and teachers.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmon Arm to hold two peaceful protests in solidarity with Black Lives Matter

June 4 and 6 protests to fight for justice for victims of police brutality, against systemic racism

Vehicle stolen in Revelstoke recovered near Salmon Arm after occupants suffer overdoses

Police say they were alerted to the vehicle after occupants treated by ambulance after drug use

Transport truck driver walks away from crash where cab detaches from trailer

Driver won’t be charged regarding incident near Pritchard

Sicamous RCMP catch driver going twice the speed limit

The car was impounded for seven days and the driver received a hefty fine

WATCH: North Okanagan golf cart stolen, then returned

Homeowners have footage of two men taking the cart and then bringing it back

Police watchdog investigating fatal crash in Kelowna

Kelowna RCMP received a report of a single-vehicle collision on Bulman Road near Highway 97 on June 1

Kelowna council greenlights ‘The Wedge’

The wedge-shaped building will be built at the corner of Leon Avenue and Water Street

Province looks to seize Kelowna home owned by alleged drug trafficker

Michelle Collins and Nigel Byrne were also recently investigated by Kelowna RCMP for drug trafficking

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Highway 1 closed after body found near Hope

Coroners Service reportedly on the scene, highway has been closed for 10 hours in both directions

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Most Read