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Surrey’s After School Athletic Programs Are Trying To Save Lives

To describe the city of Surrey as a place where drugs are flowing through the streets like water and passersby are dodging bullets that are flying through the air might be an exaggeration, but sadly, it is not a complete mischaracterization of the troubles the Metro Vancouver’s 2nd-most populated municipality has had to deal with in the last many years.  According to data compiled by Maclean’s from Statistics Canada, in 2010, Surrey ranked as the 8th most dangerous city (with at least 10,000 residents) in the country. This week alone there have been three reported incidents of shots fired, thankfully with no victims.

Despite amped-up efforts to combat crime and drug offenders leading to steep decreases in crime in 2016, this past year Surrey placed 10th across the nation regarding total drug violations-the rate of offenses was twice the average Canadian city. Surrey also took 6th-place “honors” when it came to firearms use-most likely related to the surge in gang related violence throughout Surrey since 2009. Not to mention its residents placed the city as one of the nation’s top offenders for child pornography (4th), fraud (2nd), breaking and entering (8th), robbery (6th), motor vehicle theft (3rd), and is the 9th-ranked city according to the violent crime severity index. Sadly, many youths have not only been part of these ongoing crimes but have been the victims of them as well.

This influx in crime pushed Surrey’s government leaders to create a thorough public safety strategy that urges all levels of government, the RCMP, and the community as a whole to become more proactive in keeping its citizens-especially youth-away from vices like drug usage and gang affiliation. The effort that has taken place is making a difference. So far in the first quarter of 2017, there is a continued decrease in every category of crime in Surrey. However, more must be done to eventually eradicate all crime (or at least the majority of it). Dozens of programs created by the city are focused on socialization, education, and development of youth and much more with this target in mind. Many privately-run organizations have popped up as well in recent years with the hope of creating other ways to keep today’s youths off Surrey’s streets. One method that many groups have found to be particularly successful in doing so for all ages and both sexes is their athletic initiatives, something that is not surprising according to psychodynamic counselor Daniel Smyth, the creator of Sport and Thought, Football as Therapy in the United Kingdom.

The impact of exercise is incredible no matter one’s age, but there are important benefits of exercise that are particular to youth. “The later we become involved in sport the more difficult it may be to experience a positive outcome, but only if developmental processing has not taken place, exercise,” Smyth says. “the reason that athletic participation or exercise may be specifically helpful for keeping youth away from vices could have to do with a strong feeling of satisfaction during and after participation.” “[Drugs, alcohol, and gang affiliation] offer the adolescent who is searching for gratification the same gratification as that of sport,” states Smyth. “thus sport is obviously the positive route to go down offering both individual and team based belonging, internal sense of worth, mental and physical stimulation with the resulting internal neurological feelings that the body associates with “feeling nice”. Drugs, alcohol and gang affiliation also offer these outcomes but clearly are of a negative context.”Surrey programs such as Code Blue, Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Athletics for Kids, and the Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s Youth Everlasting Seeds (Y.E.S) are just a few of the many after school programs working hard to keep Surrey’s youth fit and living a productive, crime-free life. All have seen the psychological and developmental impact that Smyth mentions.

Surrey programs such as Code Blue, Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Athletics for Kids, and the Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s Youth Everlasting Seeds (Y.E.S) are just a few of the many after school programs working hard to keep Surrey’s youth fit and living a productive, crime-free life. All have seen the psychological and developmental impact that Smyth mentions.The Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s focus has been to reach far beyond sports participation as a method to shape positive lifestyles for youth, but their latest program (Y.E.S) is centered around giving young girls a weekly opportunity to develop their social and physical skills through sports like soccer, basketball, etc. “When I first came [to Y.E.S] I was shy, timid, and easily intimidated by others.” says Sarah M. “However, now I have learned new skills and grown to be a stronger, and much more confident version of myself. Before Y.E.S, I played tennis and soccer as a kid, but I stopped as I grew older. When playing with the girls, I was in a more positive mood and energized. The program rekindled and introduced me to my love for sports. It even motivated to me try out for my school’s soccer team. I gained friends, skills, and a new perspective. Y.E.S. gave me an opportunity and skills that I can now take beyond the field or court.”

The Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s focus has been to reach far beyond sports participation as a method to shape positive lifestyles for youth, but their latest program (Y.E.S) is centered around giving young girls a weekly opportunity to develop their social and physical skills through sports like soccer, basketball, etc. “When I first came [to Y.E.S] I was shy, timid, and easily intimidated by others.” says Sarah M. “However, now I have learned new skills and grown to be a stronger, and much more confident version of myself. Before Y.E.S, I played tennis and soccer as a kid, but I stopped as I grew older. When playing with the girls, I was in a more positive mood and energized. The program rekindled and introduced me to my love for sports. It even motivated to me try out for my school’s soccer team. I gained friends, skills, and a new perspective. Y.E.S. gave me an opportunity and skills that I can now take beyond the field or court.”

Other young girls in Surrey such as 14-year-old Samantha Ogbeiwi, have found support through organizations like Athletics For Kids whose goal is to work with schools and the community so they can be made aware of students who would like to participate in sport but would not otherwise have the means to pay for the supplies or fees to take part. “I am very blessed and thankful that my kids are involved in sports.” Says Samantha’s mom, Daahyo. “Sports have taught them [her two children] many life lessons. They have been through a lot of ups and downs but pull through when they think all hope is lost. I’ve seen Sam grown into a fine young girl with a hard-working attitude and strong work ethic that has moved her into excellence in many ways.” Daahyo’s son, 12-year-old Michael, is a Canadian record-holding shotput and discuss thrower for his age; he has also been fortunate to receive assistance from Athletics For Kids. “Being in sports has given Michael a lot of confidence and brought out the best in him, doing things that he wouldn’t normally do.” Daahyo says, “Thank you A4k for giving Michael an opportunity to play sports.”

Athletics For Kids Executive Director, Sandy Hancock has worked tirelessly to find youths like Samantha and Michael in Surrey and beyond who need this type of financial assistance. She and the program have provided 85 grants for youth in Surrey alone-over 1000 overall-this past year. *Multiple grants may have been given to one athlete as long as the sports were not overlapping in the same season.

Samantha and Sandy’s interview with Global Morning News can be seen here

In the interview, Samantha made it very clear how her dreams to participate in a sport would not have been financially possible without the assistance from Athletics for Kids. Between travel expenses, equipment expenses and various other fees participating in sport is very expensive. Depending on the province, the average Canadian household spends over $1000 a year for their children to take part in organized athletics as stated in the 2015 ParcipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. A further breakdown by sport reveals that of the cheaper sports to participate in, swimming will still cost a family $400 per child per year. Hockey, undeniably Canadian youths most popular sport, can cost upwards to $15oo. It’s no surprise that 90% of parents asked said that youth sport is too expensive. The report also shows that 61% of parents say that cost of enrollment fees are the reason why 3-17-year-olds don’t participate in sport while 52% say that the cost of equipment is the reason. In parts of Surrey like City Centre, Whalley, Guilford where the median household income is less than $70,000, convincing parents to shell out so much money for sport is a tough ask. For families that are making far less than that, it is nearly impossible without these programs. In each of those neighborhoods-Newton now included- an average of 7.6% of the population over 15-years-old isn’t bringing home any income at all.

Some of today’s community leaders have seen the dark side of the world we hope youth will avoid first-hand. Joe Calendino, co-founder of Yo Bro|Yo Girl Initiative was once a member of the Hell’s Angel’s until his life got turned upside down and he decided he needed to start making better use of his time by helping youths stay off the same path he once rode down. Joe was one of the scrapper’s in the crew. He would later take his street-fighting skills and earn a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. When starting the program, structured martial arts was not in the curriculum, yet, as soon as it was implemented into the routine, it was a great success. “When I first started things,” Joe recalls, “it was first presentations, then from presentations, it moved to drug and gang talks.”

It wasn’t until he met an educator, now his wife, Brenda, who has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology from UBC, that they begin to incorporate athletics into the program. Joe goes onto say, “As we developed the curriculum, one of the staples of the program was physical fitness. Through the physical fitness, I started to see that these kids would engage and connect.” Kids who choose to take part in the program are now following in Joe’s footsteps doing Jiu Jitsu, grappling, wrestling, etc. Keeping the kids to come week-in-week-out is not an easy task and requires building deep levels of trust. Joe and his team are devoted to building that trust with as many youths they are introduced to through the city and the school systems they are connected with. Yo Bro|Yo Girl is there to guide youth along the right path. Continued growth is essential but requires youths to take the first step to join (and then stay in) the program if not introduced. As Joe put it so wonderfully, “We’re putting our hands out, we’re not here giving handouts.”

Going beyond the call of duty, the RCMP runs many programs and events that are centered around physical fitness. One of their main programs which has grown exponentially in recent years is Code Blue. RCMP officers are already putting their lives on the line to keep the community safe and free of drugs and violence, but they know better than most that doing just that requires more time and effort than a regular shift.

Sergeant Neil Kennedy now runs the 5-year-old program that was initially started by Constable Troy Derrick in 2012 when he felt the need to assist two brothers from South Surrey from potentially heading down a path of crime later in life, so he asked the young boys if they wanted to work out with him; they accepted. Eventually, the brothers were enjoying the workout program so much; they began to invite their friends. Today, the program is working with eight secondary schools and this year; Code Blue introduced their extension of the program, Mini Blue, which works with grades 5-7 as opposed to Code Blue’s 8-12 graders. “Four years ago,” Sgt. Kennedy remembers, “the RCMP youth unit decided to join Cst. Derrick and offer a program around the same fashion: a fitness based mentorship program that is open to all abilities, those with special abilities, and those not connected to the school community.” Sgt. Kennedy also stressed that Physical activity was a positive tool to help create and build relationships between police officers and youths, particularly in the Mini Blue Program.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpePLDxCA5A

The hope is that the more youths engage with the police in a fun setting-fun being the operative word-the more youths will want to cooperate with the police outside of this more controlled setting thus preventing more crime in the future. In fact, 97% of all Canadians (youths 15-19 included) say that fun and relaxation as being “very important” or “somewhat important” benefit of sport as stated in the 2010 Sport Participation Research Paper published in 2013 by Statistics Canada.

Another mission of Code Blue, the aforementioned programs, and a majority of the youth programs in Surrey is to keep kids engaged after the school day ends. Felix Kongyuy, director of the Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society, told me, “We are trying very hard to keep kids away from playing so many video games and watching so much television.” The sad reality of our modern world is that only 9% of Canadian youths aged 5-17 take part in the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity per day according to the 2015 ParcipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. And, when youths cannot be found hitting the target 60 minutes of higher-level physical activity, they can be seen watching television for an average of an hour and a half per day. When 6-17-year-olds where asked what they like to do in their free time, a vast majority of them said things like “watch TV” or “play video games.” Programs like Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Boabab Inclusive Empowerment Society, Athletics for Kids, and Code Blue need to be able to reach as many at-risk youths as possible to keep youths engaged and safe. It helps when there are sharp gains in volunteerism like there has been over the last five years. As seen in a paper written by Mireille Vézina and Susan Crompton in 2013 entitled Volunteerism in Canada, Volunteerism has risen by 12.5% across Canada since 2004.

The city of Surrey is determined to make its streets safe and clear of drugs, violence and any other vice that can harm your children’s future, Surrey’s youths future. After School initiatives like Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Boabab Inclusive Empowerment Society, Athletics for Kids, and Code Blue and the dozens of others are already giving the opportunity to thousands of at-risk youth, but there are many more youths that still need a chance, and you can help them. If you cannot donate your time, please visit websites like www.a4k.ca, www.baobabinclusive.ca, ybyg.ca, or any other local Surrey athletic program to learn more about the city’s great programs, make a contribution, or at least leave a positive message to let these important community leaders know that what their devotion to your children is not being looked over. Connecting with city officials within the public safety division as well as parks & recreation is encouraged too.

In the words of Sgt. Kennedy, “We have the future in our hands with these youths, our future doctors, our future police officers, our future lawyers, service workers, construction workers. We also know have the next percentage of criminals, people making bad decisions, so while we can, while we have them in the school system and while they’re young and can be influenced we want to do everything that we can to connect with them to help them facilitate healthy lifestyle choices. We know that youths that are connected and cared for and valued, that they have that sense of belonging whether it be in the school community or the community at large, we know that these youth do better, they do better at school, they do better at home, they make better decisions, they’re more socially responsible. We know that we have a part in solving what could be our future problems. We need to get involved earlier, and we’re going to do that through our prevention and intervention programs.” Follow the message of Sgt. Kennedy and the hundreds of community leaders that are already doing their part to make Surrey the safe, thriving community that we know it is capable of becoming.

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To describe the city of Surrey as a place where drugs are flowing through the streets like water and passersby are dodging bullets that are flying through the air might be an exaggeration, but sadly, it is not a complete mischaracterization of the troubles the Metro Vancouver’s 2nd-most populated municipality has had to deal with in the last many years.  According to data compiled by Maclean’s from Statistics Canada, in 2010, Surrey ranked as the 8th most dangerous city (with at least 10,000 residents) in the country. This week alone there have been three reported incidents of shots fired, thankfully with no victims.

Despite amped-up efforts to combat crime and drug offenders leading to steep decreases in crime in 2016, this past year Surrey placed 10th across the nation regarding total drug violations-the rate of offenses was twice the average Canadian city. Surrey also took 6th-place “honors” when it came to firearms use-most likely related to the surge in gang related violence throughout Surrey since 2009. Not to mention its residents placed the city as one of the nation’s top offenders for child pornography (4th), fraud (2nd), breaking and entering (8th), robbery (6th), motor vehicle theft (3rd), and is the 9th-ranked city according to the violent crime severity index. Sadly, many youths have not only been part of these ongoing crimes but have been the victims of them as well.

This influx in crime pushed Surrey’s government leaders to create a thorough public safety strategy that urges all levels of government, the RCMP, and the community as a whole to become more proactive in keeping its citizens-especially youth-away from vices like drug usage and gang affiliation. The effort that has taken place is making a difference. So far in the first quarter of 2017, there is a continued decrease in every category of crime in Surrey. However, more must be done to eventually eradicate all crime (or at least the majority of it). Dozens of programs created by the city are focused on socialization, education, and development of youth and much more with this target in mind. Many privately-run organizations have popped up as well in recent years with the hope of creating other ways to keep today’s youths off Surrey’s streets. One method that many groups have found to be particularly successful in doing so for all ages and both sexes is their athletic initiatives, something that is not surprising according to psychodynamic counselor Daniel Smyth, the creator of Sport and Thought, Football as Therapy in the United Kingdom.

The impact of exercise is incredible no matter one’s age, but there are important benefits of exercise that are particular to youth. “The later we become involved in sport the more difficult it may be to experience a positive outcome, but only if developmental processing has not taken place, exercise,” Smyth says. “the reason that athletic participation or exercise may be specifically helpful for keeping youth away from vices could have to do with a strong feeling of satisfaction during and after participation.” “[Drugs, alcohol, and gang affiliation] offer the adolescent who is searching for gratification the same gratification as that of sport,” states Smyth. “thus sport is obviously the positive route to go down offering both individual and team based belonging, internal sense of worth, mental and physical stimulation with the resulting internal neurological feelings that the body associates with “feeling nice”. Drugs, alcohol and gang affiliation also offer these outcomes but clearly are of a negative context.”Surrey programs such as Code Blue, Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Athletics for Kids, and the Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s Youth Everlasting Seeds (Y.E.S) are just a few of the many after school programs working hard to keep Surrey’s youth fit and living a productive, crime-free life. All have seen the psychological and developmental impact that Smyth mentions.

Surrey programs such as Code Blue, Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Athletics for Kids, and the Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s Youth Everlasting Seeds (Y.E.S) are just a few of the many after school programs working hard to keep Surrey’s youth fit and living a productive, crime-free life. All have seen the psychological and developmental impact that Smyth mentions.The Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s focus has been to reach far beyond sports participation as a method to shape positive lifestyles for youth, but their latest program (Y.E.S) is centered around giving young girls a weekly opportunity to develop their social and physical skills through sports like soccer, basketball, etc. “When I first came [to Y.E.S] I was shy, timid, and easily intimidated by others.” says Sarah M. “However, now I have learned new skills and grown to be a stronger, and much more confident version of myself. Before Y.E.S, I played tennis and soccer as a kid, but I stopped as I grew older. When playing with the girls, I was in a more positive mood and energized. The program rekindled and introduced me to my love for sports. It even motivated to me try out for my school’s soccer team. I gained friends, skills, and a new perspective. Y.E.S. gave me an opportunity and skills that I can now take beyond the field or court.”

The Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s focus has been to reach far beyond sports participation as a method to shape positive lifestyles for youth, but their latest program (Y.E.S) is centered around giving young girls a weekly opportunity to develop their social and physical skills through sports like soccer, basketball, etc. “When I first came [to Y.E.S] I was shy, timid, and easily intimidated by others.” says Sarah M. “However, now I have learned new skills and grown to be a stronger, and much more confident version of myself. Before Y.E.S, I played tennis and soccer as a kid, but I stopped as I grew older. When playing with the girls, I was in a more positive mood and energized. The program rekindled and introduced me to my love for sports. It even motivated to me try out for my school’s soccer team. I gained friends, skills, and a new perspective. Y.E.S. gave me an opportunity and skills that I can now take beyond the field or court.”

Other young girls in Surrey such as 14-year-old Samantha Ogbeiwi, have found support through organizations like Athletics For Kids whose goal is to work with schools and the community so they can be made aware of students who would like to participate in sport but would not otherwise have the means to pay for the supplies or fees to take part. “I am very blessed and thankful that my kids are involved in sports.” Says Samantha’s mom, Daahyo. “Sports have taught them [her two children] many life lessons. They have been through a lot of ups and downs but pull through when they think all hope is lost. I’ve seen Sam grown into a fine young girl with a hard-working attitude and strong work ethic that has moved her into excellence in many ways.” Daahyo’s son, 12-year-old Michael, is a Canadian record-holding shotput and discuss thrower for his age; he has also been fortunate to receive assistance from Athletics For Kids. “Being in sports has given Michael a lot of confidence and brought out the best in him, doing things that he wouldn’t normally do.” Daahyo says, “Thank you A4k for giving Michael an opportunity to play sports.”

Athletics For Kids Executive Director, Sandy Hancock has worked tirelessly to find youths like Samantha and Michael in Surrey and beyond who need this type of financial assistance. She and the program have provided 85 grants for youth in Surrey alone-over 1000 overall-this past year. *Multiple grants may have been given to one athlete as long as the sports were not overlapping in the same season.

Samantha and Sandy’s interview with Global Morning News can be seen here

In the interview, Samantha made it very clear how her dreams to participate in a sport would not have been financially possible without the assistance from Athletics for Kids. Between travel expenses, equipment expenses and various other fees participating in sport is very expensive. Depending on the province, the average Canadian household spends over $1000 a year for their children to take part in organized athletics as stated in the 2015 ParcipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. A further breakdown by sport reveals that of the cheaper sports to participate in, swimming will still cost a family $400 per child per year. Hockey, undeniably Canadian youths most popular sport, can cost upwards to $15oo. It’s no surprise that 90% of parents asked said that youth sport is too expensive. The report also shows that 61% of parents say that cost of enrollment fees are the reason why 3-17-year-olds don’t participate in sport while 52% say that the cost of equipment is the reason. In parts of Surrey like City Centre, Whalley, Guilford where the median household income is less than $70,000, convincing parents to shell out so much money for sport is a tough ask. For families that are making far less than that, it is nearly impossible without these programs. In each of those neighborhoods-Newton now included- an average of 7.6% of the population over 15-years-old isn’t bringing home any income at all.

Some of today’s community leaders have seen the dark side of the world we hope youth will avoid first-hand. Joe Calendino, co-founder of Yo Bro|Yo Girl Initiative was once a member of the Hell’s Angel’s until his life got turned upside down and he decided he needed to start making better use of his time by helping youths stay off the same path he once rode down. Joe was one of the scrapper’s in the crew. He would later take his street-fighting skills and earn a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. When starting the program, structured martial arts was not in the curriculum, yet, as soon as it was implemented into the routine, it was a great success. “When I first started things,” Joe recalls, “it was first presentations, then from presentations, it moved to drug and gang talks.”

It wasn’t until he met an educator, now his wife, Brenda, who has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology from UBC, that they begin to incorporate athletics into the program. Joe goes onto say, “As we developed the curriculum, one of the staples of the program was physical fitness. Through the physical fitness, I started to see that these kids would engage and connect.” Kids who choose to take part in the program are now following in Joe’s footsteps doing Jiu Jitsu, grappling, wrestling, etc. Keeping the kids to come week-in-week-out is not an easy task and requires building deep levels of trust. Joe and his team are devoted to building that trust with as many youths they are introduced to through the city and the school systems they are connected with. Yo Bro|Yo Girl is there to guide youth along the right path. Continued growth is essential but requires youths to take the first step to join (and then stay in) the program if not introduced. As Joe put it so wonderfully, “We’re putting our hands out, we’re not here giving handouts.”

Going beyond the call of duty, the RCMP runs many programs and events that are centered around physical fitness. One of their main programs which has grown exponentially in recent years is Code Blue. RCMP officers are already putting their lives on the line to keep the community safe and free of drugs and violence, but they know better than most that doing just that requires more time and effort than a regular shift.

Sergeant Neil Kennedy now runs the 5-year-old program that was initially started by Constable Troy Derrick in 2012 when he felt the need to assist two brothers from South Surrey from potentially heading down a path of crime later in life, so he asked the young boys if they wanted to work out with him; they accepted. Eventually, the brothers were enjoying the workout program so much; they began to invite their friends. Today, the program is working with eight secondary schools and this year; Code Blue introduced their extension of the program, Mini Blue, which works with grades 5-7 as opposed to Code Blue’s 8-12 graders. “Four years ago,” Sgt. Kennedy remembers, “the RCMP youth unit decided to join Cst. Derrick and offer a program around the same fashion: a fitness based mentorship program that is open to all abilities, those with special abilities, and those not connected to the school community.” Sgt. Kennedy also stressed that Physical activity was a positive tool to help create and build relationships between police officers and youths, particularly in the Mini Blue Program.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpePLDxCA5A

The hope is that the more youths engage with the police in a fun setting-fun being the operative word-the more youths will want to cooperate with the police outside of this more controlled setting thus preventing more crime in the future. In fact, 97% of all Canadians (youths 15-19 included) say that fun and relaxation as being “very important” or “somewhat important” benefit of sport as stated in the 2010 Sport Participation Research Paper published in 2013 by Statistics Canada.

Another mission of Code Blue, the aforementioned programs, and a majority of the youth programs in Surrey is to keep kids engaged after the school day ends. Felix Kongyuy, director of the Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society, told me, “We are trying very hard to keep kids away from playing so many video games and watching so much television.” The sad reality of our modern world is that only 9% of Canadian youths aged 5-17 take part in the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity per day according to the 2015 ParcipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. And, when youths cannot be found hitting the target 60 minutes of higher-level physical activity, they can be seen watching television for an average of an hour and a half per day. When 6-17-year-olds where asked what they like to do in their free time, a vast majority of them said things like “watch TV” or “play video games.” Programs like Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Boabab Inclusive Empowerment Society, Athletics for Kids, and Code Blue need to be able to reach as many at-risk youths as possible to keep youths engaged and safe. It helps when there are sharp gains in volunteerism like there has been over the last five years. As seen in a paper written by Mireille Vézina and Susan Crompton in 2013 entitled Volunteerism in Canada, Volunteerism has risen by 12.5% across Canada since 2004.

The city of Surrey is determined to make its streets safe and clear of drugs, violence and any other vice that can harm your children’s future, Surrey’s youths future. After School initiatives like Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Boabab Inclusive Empowerment Society, Athletics for Kids, and Code Blue and the dozens of others are already giving the opportunity to thousands of at-risk youth, but there are many more youths that still need a chance, and you can help them. If you cannot donate your time, please visit websites like www.a4k.ca, www.baobabinclusive.ca, ybyg.ca, or any other local Surrey athletic program to learn more about the city’s great programs, make a contribution, or at least leave a positive message to let these important community leaders know that what their devotion to your children is not being looked over. Connecting with city officials within the public safety division as well as parks & recreation is encouraged too.

In the words of Sgt. Kennedy, “We have the future in our hands with these youths, our future doctors, our future police officers, our future lawyers, service workers, construction workers. We also know have the next percentage of criminals, people making bad decisions, so while we can, while we have them in the school system and while they’re young and can be influenced we want to do everything that we can to connect with them to help them facilitate healthy lifestyle choices. We know that youths that are connected and cared for and valued, that they have that sense of belonging whether it be in the school community or the community at large, we know that these youth do better, they do better at school, they do better at home, they make better decisions, they’re more socially responsible. We know that we have a part in solving what could be our future problems. We need to get involved earlier, and we’re going to do that through our prevention and intervention programs.” Follow the message of Sgt. Kennedy and the hundreds of community leaders that are already doing their part to make Surrey the safe, thriving community that we know it is capable of becoming.

Hailing from New York. Adam moved to Vancouver at the start of 2016. Adam is a life long sports fan who has written about lacrosse, baseball, basketball and even Muay Thai.

Education

Surrey Students Awarded Scholarships, New Scholarship Created By Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation.

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CLOVERDALE, BC: In June 2020, while the world came to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair postponed, one of the things that didn’t stop was the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation annual scholarship. Seven grade 12 students from across the city of Surrey were awarded $1000.00 scholarships for post-secondary education by the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation.

“As a Board we collectively agreed to proceed with awarding scholarships during the pandemic, whether there was a rodeo or not, because people are in a time of financial need more than ever, and this is not a time to hold back, but to give and lend a helping hand”, says Foundation Chair Nicole Reader.”

The recipients, all of whom were part of the graduating class of 2020, will use their $1000.00 scholarships for a variety of post secondary institutions across British Columbia.

The 2020 Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Foundation recipients:

  • Vincent Labador – Johnston Heights Secondary
  • Nisha Niijar – Fleetwood Park Secondary
  • Aashna Thapar – North Surrey Secondary
  • Natasha Kalinic – Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
  • Alexander Thornton – Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
  • Taya Suttill – Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
  • Skye Graham – Clayton Heights Secondary

“Each of these graduates are incredibly deserving of these awards,” says Foundation Chair Nicole Reader. “The entire community should be proud of these young people.”

The foundation adjusted its scholarship criteria, so applicants did not require having previous volunteer experience at the Cloverdale Rodeo in order to be eligible, as long as they had volunteer experience with another organization.

The Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation will also be awarding scholarships this year under its new criteria. The application deadline for the 2021 scholarships is Friday, May 21st, 2021.

Scholarship applications can be found here.

Not only has the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation continued to support the youth community throughout the pandemic, but the organization has also been provided the opportunity to establish an additional scholarship through its organization called The Isabella Olson Scholarship Award “Rising Above”.

The “Rising Above” scholarship was established in loving memory of a Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary student, Isabella Olson, on behalf of her loving family. Isabella was an extraordinary and inspirational young individual who strived to ‘Rise Above’ the various obstacles she faced while always remaining determined to succeed.

To honour Isabella’s legacy a $2,000.00 scholarship has been created to recognize an inspiring Lord Tweedsmuir grade 12 student who is “Rising Above” obstacles, whether personal, mental health, bullying, or family related complications.

A student who has the determination to continue doing well in school, who may participate in school activities community services and/or may have work experience.

“Isabella’s inspiring spirit was a source of strength to all who knew her, and it is our esteemed honour to be able to present this award and assisting inspiring students in achieving their dreams, says Foundation Chair Reader.”

The application deadline for the 2021 Isabella Olson Scholarship Award “Rising Above” is Friday, May 21st, 2021.

Scholarship application can be found here.

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Fossil Discovery Deepens Snakefly Mystery

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Fossil discoveries often help answer long-standing questions about how our modern world came to be. However, sometimes they only deepen the mystery—as a recent discovery of four new species of ancient insects in British Columbia and Washington state is proving.

The fossil species, recently discovered by paleontologists Bruce Archibald of Simon Fraser University and Vladimir Makarkin of the Russian Academy of Sciences, are from a group of insects known as snakeflies, now shown to have lived in the region some 50 million years ago.

The findings, published in Zootaxa, raise more questions about the evolutionary history of the distinctly elongated insects and why they live where they do today.

Snakeflies are slender, predatory insects that are native to the Northern Hemisphere and noticeably absent from tropical regions. Scientists have traditionally believed that they require cold winters to trigger development into adults, restricting them almost exclusively to regions that experience winter frost days or colder. However, the fossil sites where the ancient species were found experienced a climate that doesn’t fit with this explanation.

“The average yearly climate was moderate like Vancouver or Seattle today, but importantly, with very mild winters of few or no frost days,” says Archibald. “We can see this by the presence of frost intolerant plants like palms living in these forests along with more northerly plants like spruce.”

The fossil sites where the ancient species were discovered span 1,000 kilometers of an ancient upland from Driftwood Canyon in northwest B.C. to the McAbee fossil site in southern B.C., and all the way to the city of Republic in northern Washington.

Archibald at Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park
Archibald at Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park

According to Archibald, the paleontologists found species of two families of snakeflies in these fossil sites, both of which had previously been thought to require cold winters to survive. Each family appears to have independently adapted to cold winters after these fossil species lived.

“Now we know that earlier in their evolutionary history, snakeflies were living in climates with very mild winters and so the question becomes why didn’t they keep their ability to live in such regions? Why aren’t snakeflies found in the tropics today?”

Pervious fossil insect discoveries in these sites have shown connections with Europe, Pacific coastal Russia, and even Australia.

Archibald emphasizes that understanding how life adapts to climate by looking deep into the past helps explain why species are distributed across the globe today, and can perhaps help foresee how further change in climate may affect that pattern.

“Such discoveries are coming out of these fossil sites all the time,” says Archibald. “They’re an important part of our heritage.”

Archibald fieldwork at Mcabee

About Simon Fraser University

As Canada’s engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change.

We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today’s problems.

With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities—Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey—SFU has eight faculties that deliver 193 undergraduate degree programs and 127 graduate degree programs to more than 37,000 students. The university now boasts more than 165,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.

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The 5 Best 3D Animation Schools In BC

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Did you know Canada is the ultimate hub of 3D animation productions around the globe? With films like Spider-Man, the Avengers, Black Panther, Jurassic World and Star Wars being animated in Vancouver alone, there is no shortage of talent needed in our booming 3D animation industry!

For a prosperous career in the 3D animation industry, it’s no surprise that students are searching for the perfect school to meet their needs. We’ve assembled a list of the top five best film schools in Canada to help streamline your search.

Course offerings at these schools range from flexible one year programs to Bachelors degree options, allowing students to choose from an array of programs best catered towards their needs.

Vancouver Film School

Vancouver Film School is a powerhouse for BC’s creative economy! VFS offers a 12 month diploma that allows you to graduate with a master demo reel of your final project. The school prides itself on producing alumni who push boundaries and discover new frontiers all around the globe!

Though the school comes with a hefty price tag, if you’re seeking to gain experience with traditional arts, computer animation, and exceptional storytelling skills in a professional, student environment – look no further.

InFocus Film School

InFocus Film School in Vancouver, BC offers arguably one of the most practical, hands-on 3D animation programs on this list. Their 3D animation course encourages students to maintain creative freedom.

Despite being one of the most affordable 3D programs in Canada, InFocus students and staff have found work for major studios like Warner Bros., Marvel, DC and more. If you want to learn 3D modeling, character animation and more in one action-packed year, this 3D course will give you the most bang for your buck!

Vancouver Animation School

VANAS is a humble college in Burnaby, BC specializing in the 3D Animation and VFX Industry! They offer introductory courses for beginners, and advanced diploma programs for artists to enter our digital entertainment industries.

Each program is designed to enable aspiring animation filmmakers to learn the production process of creating high quality animation using 2D and 3D computer software. All of their courses are 12 months or under – perfect for students seeking a fast-paced, practical-based education for their animation career.

Emily Carr University of Art & Design

Emily Carr University of Art and Design is the ideal place to develop the academic and practical skills necessary for entering the animation industry!

If you learn best in the classroom through extensive curriculums, Emily Carr’s education system will be an excellent fit for you. You’ll also be given the opportunity to gain some solid hands-on animation production experience and collaborate with experienced individuals in the animation industry. This four year masters program will enable you to become an exceptional critical thinker while honing your technical skills.

Vancouver Institute of Media Arts

VANArts pledges to transform hungry creative minds into the best in the industry, and their 92% placement upon graduation is a testament to this. They offer several animation programs that cater to specific niches, such as 2D & 3D character animation, video game animation, and more. If you’re a student keen on focusing on your interests while working with industry professionals, VANArts is the place for you!

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The Dangers of Toxic Positivity

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Toxic positivity can be attributed to “insincere” positivity which is detrimental to someone’s mental well being. It is “the assumption, either by one’s self or others, that despite a person’s emotional pain or difficult situation, they should only have a positive mindset “ as Dr. Zuckerman phrased it. Examples of when toxic positivity in daily phrases can include “it can be worse”, “everything will be fine”, “look at the bright side”, and “just be happy”.

Optimism can be considered an “attractive behavior in people that makes them seem more well-adapted” said Dr. Preston, who specializes in empathy, altruism, and the way emotions affect behavior. As per the research of Dr. Preston and Dr. Carolyn Karol optimism can lead to an issue when people begin to invalidate the range of emotions they experience, or a problem they have encountered.

Carolyn Karoll, a psychotherapist in Baltimore also states that in doing so it is not only counterproductive but “it can give the impression that you are defective when you feel distressed, which can be internalized in a core belief that you are inadequate or weak.”

As per Dr. Zukerman, toxic positivity can constitute consciously or unconsciously as an avoidance strategy “ used to push away and invalidate any internal discomfort” which can lead to disrupted sleep, increased substance abuse, prolonged grief, or even PTSD.

This topic is especially integral to discuss in a time period, where hardships of people during the Pandemic are even more prevalent. It has been stated that 40.9% of respondents for a survey in June 2020 reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder.

During a time period where people are more susceptible to a mental health condition, people must not get persuaded by forms of toxic positivity in their aspirations of recovery.

Social media is unknowingly flooded with toxic positivity, to lift people’s spirits during this time period. People are embraced by quotes such as “pursue a hobby” and “you have so much time make use of it”.

These notions are valuable ways for people to be engaged in their community and stay connected with themselves and their passions during the pandemic. However, “putting one foot in front of the other is an accomplishment for many during this global pandemic.” as Dr. Karoll states.

Being productive can be constituted as something important to consider during the pandemic, but let this not hinder people from validating their emotions and finding the support they need with it.

To refrain from a mindset that is regulated often by toxic positivity, people must first understand the gravity of the situation of their lives during the pandemic, and realize that this pandemic naturally causes interferences in people’s schedules and lives, thus amounting to stress at times.

People must learn to stay in tune with their emotions and reflect on their current state of mind. If a person realizes that they are not able to cope or adapt to the current situation, they should understand that this is natural and that they have the right to be upset.

It is equally important that people full-heartedly experience their emotions, and then take measures to support themselves during this time period. Connecting with mental health resources, therapists, and integrating small habits in their days to consider their mental health is optimal.

As per a UCLA Study writing things down can “be putting feelings into words [and] reduce the intensity of emotions such as sadness, anger, and pain.” This is just one method for people to fully decipher their emotions and find an outlet for it.

In order to support other people during this pandemic as well, Dr. DeSilva states that “it’s [..] healthier to acknowledge the pain a person might be experiencing. Ask what they need. It’s possible to exude a positive attitude and still interact with others in a caring way. That’s when positivity is not toxic.”

Our word choices and thought patterns can greatly effect our approach in supporting others. Instead of using phrases such as “it can be worse”, people should try saying something along the lines of “I know things are currently difficult right now for you, what are some positive things that you can surround yourself with?” Instead of saying “just be happy” say “it’s okay if you can’t be happy right now, that’s normal and part of life. Do you need to talk about it? What are some things you can turn to that will help you feel better?”

These small changes in our wording choices validate and fully experience their emotions, and then reflect on it and work towards a solution, opposed to simply suppressing what they feel.

When these steps are acknowledged in a person’s path to rehabilitation, a person without the hindrance of ‘toxic posiitvity’ can truly digest their experiences, and grow from them.

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Sensing Robot Healthcare Helpers Being Developed At SFU

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Robots that could take on basic healthcare tasks to support the work of doctors and nurses may be the way of the future. Who knows, maybe a medical robot can prescribe your medicine someday?

That’s the idea behind 3D structural-sensing robots being developed and tested at Simon Fraser University by Woo Soo Kim, associate professor in the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering.

“The recent pandemic demonstrates the need to minimize human-to-human interaction between healthcare workers and patients,” says Kim, who authored two recent papers on the subject – a perspective on the technology and a demonstration of a robots’ usefulness in healthcare. “There’s an opportunity for sensing robots to measure essential healthcare information on behalf of care providers in the future.”

Kim’s research team programmed two robots, a humanoid figure and a robotic arm, to measure human physiological signals, working from Kim’s Additive Manufacturing Lab located in SFU Surrey’s new engineering building.

The robotic arm, created using Kim’s 3D printed origami structures, contains biomedical electrodes on the tip of each finger. When the hand touches a person, it detects physiological signals, including those from an electrocardiogram (which monitors heartbeat), respiration rate, electromyogram (monitoring electrical signals from muscle movements) and temperature.

The humanoid robot can also monitor oxygen levels, which could be used to monitor the condition of those who develop severe COVID-19. The data can be viewed in real-time on the robot’s monitor or sent directly to the healthcare provider.

Kim plans further development and testing of the robot together with healthcare collaborators. At this stage, the robots are capable of passively gathering patient information. But within the next decade, he says it’s conceivable that healthcare robots fitted with artificial intelligence could take a more active role, interacting with the patient, processing the data they have collected and even prescribing medication.

Further study will also need to involve determining acceptance levels for this type of technology among various age groups, from youth to seniors, in a hospital setting.

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