What have you done for at-risk youth lately? I donâ€™t know about you, but Iâ€™ve just attended the Salon Series: Liberated Transparency, which makes me a better person than you. But I digress. Salon Series is a place where speakers are invited to talk about various issues around the city, and everyone is invited to share their ideas in an open, positive setting.
This Salon, titlted â€œLiberated Transparencyâ€, was about mental health and youth at risk. It was organized by Sarah Jamieson, a self-described â€œsports philanthropreneurâ€, and one of the most vibrant, energetic people I have ever met (which is small wonder, seeing as how she has probably run enough marathons to go around the Earth once or twice). She started off with her own story about why she cares about this issue â€“ an abusive stepfather, a broken childhood and a bipolar mother who committed suicide three years ago.
The first two guest speakers were Kristina Dixon from the Canadian Mental Health Association and three police officers from Odd Squad Productions. They spoke about their efforts at youth outreach, and about what we can do to help those at risk. The Odd Squad also focused on the issues of drug abuse and prevention.
However, the highlight of the night was Alana Stockford, a partially disabled teen who attends grade 11 at Heritage Woods Secondary School. She recounted her experiences as a â€œdisabledâ€ person growing up in Vancouver, telling a touching story of alienation, neglect, and lost friendship. However, it was just as much a story of hope and a brighter future, not only for her but for everyone affected by issues of mental health.
Overall, the Liberated Transparency Salon was a refreshing reminder of the realities of the often-neglected topic of mental health and youth at risk in our society. We still have a very limited understanding of what it is like to be afflicted by mental diseases, and if history has taught us anything, itâ€™s that dialogue is an excellent way of getting to know each other.
Photo from www.sarahmjamieson.wordpress.com