STONEY NAKODA – Morley Community School students were plugged into questions about how gaming and being online can affect their mental health and wellbeing during a workshop earlier this month.
With questions like what are some of the “less good” things about Internet gaming, students participated in a community-based mental health workshop for First Nation members through the Community Education Series.
The workshop was offered in partnership by Turning Point, a program founded 10 years ago through Stoney Health Services with the mission to provide community-based mental health and wellness support for members of the Nation, and those connected to the community like the Cochrane RCMP.
“These Community Education Series, they are a platform that gives the community members of Stoney Nakoda valuable information about what is happening in the world,” said Cochrane RCMP Const. Jennifer Brewer. “I mean everything from video game addiction, Internet harassment, safety issues, right down to when they legalized marijuana – it’s affecting the community out here just as much as it’s affecting [other communities].”
Brewer is a member of the Community Tripartite Policing Agreement (CTA), and holds a position within the RCMP designed to promote community programs in First Nations communities.
“It’s important to arm [Nation members] with the knowledge, in order to keep themselves safe and help educate them, so when they are faced with maybe a safety issue, they know how to handle it,” she said.
Focusing the most recent workshop on Internet Safety & Social Media/Gaming Addiction, youth and adults attending were encouraged to discuss the perks and “less good” things about the world of gaming.
Being candid with their answers, the Stoney Nakoda attendees listed perks such as killing boredom, education, and the fact you can win things, while also acknowledging the dark side of Internet gaming including the toxic online environment, lack of social skills, disconnecting with your family, the addictive nature of gaming, creeps on the Internet and utilizing games as a way to escape.
“If it’s changing or shifting [your behaviour] over time, that is the big things to notice ... you need to acknowledge if it wrecks your spirit,” said Fred Folliott with Bow Valley Addiction and Mental Health, who was mediating the workshop.
It is through these discussions, organizers want to increase education and create awareness around these important topics. Previous workshops included Personal Safety and Healthy Relationships, and Self Defense for Females – the latter being so popular, organizers are currently working on offering a second class.
“It’s so important to give community members that knowledge so that when they come to that fork in the road, they can use that knowledge and make the choice best for them ... we’re able to help them see what options they have, as well as arm them to keep themselves healthy and safe on a day-to-day basis,” Brewer said.
While the first set of Community Education Series workshops are already done, organizers are currently working the topics for the next workshops and want people on the Nation to know, the classes are free, all ages welcome with no registrations necessary – with the exception of the self-defense classes.
For more information, contact organizers at 403-881-2876.