Insightful youngsters are already making the world a better place, as demonstrated by the Grades 6 & 7 hosts of the Senpaq’cin Student Exhibition last week.
Preston Gabriel in Grade 6 explored the benefits of essential oils.
“I learned that aroma therapy is actually really useful,” she told the Chronicle. “It can trigger different senses, can relieve stress in different ways, it can liven up your mood, liven up your day – and if you just find that one scent that you really like it will really help you.”
Preston supplied samples of essential oils to the schools in town – SOSS, OES, Tuc-el-Nuit as well as her own – and then evaluated the results from other students.
“Some high schoolers used them throughout the day and I feel really proud of that.”
Her project has helped students to address their feelings more deeply.
“I know a lot of people don’t like the topic of anxiety or depression but I don’t want to be that person who hides it. I want to be that person who digs deeper and opens up about it because it needs to be known and people are really sensitive about it.”
And Preston’s favourite essential oil is citrus – “It livens up my mood, makes me bubbly and helps me on days when I feel down.”
Luke Kovacs in Grade 6 explored the impact that parental conflicts have on mental health.
“I chose it because I went through toxic stress because when I was little, my parents, they split up,” he said. “It really affected me”
He says home life is much more peaceful now, but by Grade 3 or 4 he was already noticing the negative effects on his mental health.
Luke learned that young brains don’t develop properly when they’re subjected to too much stress. Exposure to fighting produces stress hormones, and the stress will continue for long after if a child isn’t properly consoled. Over time, toxic stress stifles the growth of neural networks.
“Adults have a big responsibility to choose their actions. If they are going to fight, they should either tell their kid to go upstairs and play or they should go upstairs themselves.”
In the photograph below, Luke is holding up models of two different brains: a healthy one with broad connections, contrasted against one with far fewer connections after too much toxic stress.
Tylersky Louie (in Grade 7) acquired the wisdom of her ancestors to complete her project.
With the help of her Mom, Uncle John, Auntie Audrey – she learned how to build a traditional sweat lodge.
“Collecting materials went well but getting hit with willow is not fun,” she said.
She came up with the idea after talking with her peers about how there could be more cultural activities and connection to their elders.
While Tylersky didn’t know much about sweat lodges before the project, the first one she built with her family was sturdy and cozy, as anyone who attended the student exhibition could see.
She also learned to harvest resources sustainably, rather than taking everything from a small area.
Families traditionally used sweat lodges for mental and physical health. Each session is a chance to “reset” by easing stress, depression and anxiety, Tylersky explained.
“It’s really warm at first but then you get used to it.”
After completing the project, Tylersky feels proud that she can now share the knowledge and skills to build sweat lodges with her peers and younger generations. She also hopes to be able to organize a program for women.
Grade 6 Kaysen Graham (in right photo) decided to delve into the importance of physical activity.
Furthermore, he’s gauging interest to see if there’s enough appetite to form a local lacrosse team.
He’s been surveying Grades 5s, 6s and 7s from Oliver and Osyoos to find out how many other young athletes are interested, and if they’d be willing to travel as far as Vernon for games.
Bryant Hall in Grade 7 (pictured in left photo) raised over $1,000 to send vaccines where they’re needed most.
Thanks to some very successful bake sales, 100 Unicef Canada Vaccine Packs – containing vaccines for tetanus, polio and measles – are on their way to impoverished and war-torn countries.
Grade 7 Damian Freear explored the impact that physical landscapes have on internal health.
He finds that it is most beneficial to keep the environment in a pristine state.
“Nature just helps with healing and mental health,” he said.
Although the South Okanagan has a very nice environment, Damian said it would be better if there were fewer buildings, and that, “We should plant more plants and create less pollution.”