Bishop Alexander Carter C.S.S.
October 13, 2023

Sudbury Catholic District School Board Supports HEADSTRONG: Youth Mental Health Summit

The Sudbury Catholic District School Board is pleased to join students from Sudbury, Espanola and Manitoulin Island for HEADSTRONG, an evidence-based anti-stigma initiative that inspires students to Be Brave, Reach Out and Speak Up about mental health. The summit will occur on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm at Cambrian College. 

This day-long conference will bring together approximately 140 Secondary students from the Sudbury Catholic District School Board, Rainbow District School Board, Conseil scolaire public du Grand Nord de l’Ontario, and Conseil scolaire catholique du Nouvel-Ontario.

Spearheaded by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the HEADSTRONG movement educates youth ages 12 to 18 to recognize the signs of mental health problems and to help reduce the associated stigma. 

“Mental health and well-being is a priority for the Sudbury Catholic District School Board,” says Director of Education, Joanne Bénard. “Working with our co-terminous boards to host HEADSTRONG further supports our ongoing commitment to nurture students by fostering their mental, physical, social, and emotional well-being. Through this experience, HEADSTRONG will provide summit attendees with the essential tools, knowledge, and confidence to confront mental health stigmas respectfully and promote mental health and wellness within their school and surrounding community. We want to thank the support of our sponsors, including Cambrian College, Lions Club, Future North, and the Greater Sudbury Police Services, who have charitably contributed to the success of this upcoming event.”

At the summit, students will have the unique opportunity to listen to speakers with lived experiences, engage in stigma-busting activities, gain insights into available community services, and devise action plans to implement positive change upon returning to their respective schools. 

“The Board recognizes the importance of erasing stigmas and cultivating a culture of hope. Though this is a one-day conference, the learning it will provide is meaningful for years to come.” Say’s Tasha Breau, a registered Psychotherapist at the Sudbury Catholic District School Board and lead organizer of this year’s HEADSTONG summit. “We are thrilled to see how this year’s summit will educate our students, strengthen our communities, and transform how we can further support mental health and wellness in our schools.” 

HEADSTRONG Summit Agenda

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Cambrian College

8:30 am to 9:00 am   Registration
9:00 am to 9:30 am   Introduction/Welcome
9:30 am to 9:55 am   Keynote Address: Gabe Parent
9:55 am to 10:10 am   Break
10:10 am to 10:35 am   Keynote Address: Katlyn Kotila
10:40 am to 11:10 am   Breakout Room Activities
11:15 pm to 12:15 pmNote: Best time for media interviews   Lunch/Resource Fair
12:15 pm to 12:45 pm   Prize Draw/Speaker Panel Introductions
12:45 pm to 1:45 pm   Panel discussion with guest speakers
2:00 pm to 2:25 pm   Action planning breakout activity
2:30 pm to 2:45 pm   Youth Presentations
2:30 pm to 3:00 pm   Wrap-up

About Keynote Speakers: 

The first keynote address will be delivered by Gabe Parent. Gabe is a passionate mental health advocate with a bachelor’s degree in social work. Gabe’s career journey has included roles as a Youth net/Reseau Ado facilitator and as a healthcare worker, providing care to seniors and youth. Gabe identifies as part of the LGBTQ2S+ community and works to be proactively inclusive of all individuals. In addition to empowering youth to follow their dreams, Gabe believes in the value of well-being for all, from the youngest to the oldest members of the community. 

Students will also hear from Katlyn Kotila, a passionate public speaker and community leader from Sudbury, Ontario. She is the Co-Founder of the Northern Ontario Pride Connection, a non-profit organization aimed at supporting and empowering the 2SLGBTQ+ community across northern Ontario. At the age of 14, she lost a close friend to death by suicide, a moment that would go on to change her life forever. Since then, she has spent her career advocating for improved mental health services and speaking to audiences across North America about her experiences as a suicide-loss survivor.

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