By Sarah Blackwell
This past summer I was honoured to be asked to facilitate a wellness workshop to over 90 aboriginal youth who attended the Anishinabek Nation Eshkeniijig Engagement. As the facilitator I led the youth through seven 60-minute teachings on wellness as each group rotated through tipis which focussed on various components of creating strong leaders in Anishinabek territory.
My tipi teachings were unique from other presenters since I had the youth focus on how to tell their health story. Each person has a health story to tell from the events they have encountered through life and their health story is where they can find strength, courage and humility to become a strong leader of their community. Participants discussed how leaders can “fit out” of the regular mainstream way of thought and be leaders by sharing an idea that may be considered radical or even surprising to others. They discussed how this new way of making decisions could help promote change in their communities surrounding political decisions, health, wellness, food choices, exercise and even relationships.
Participants were also lead through a self-awareness exercise where they discovered the areas of their life that were out of balance. They discussed the importance of knowing oneself in order to lead others through a healthy path of self-determination. They were each given a piece of paper with a circle diagram where they reflected on each area of their life, and then they created a diagram by asking themselves how satisfied they were in that area. Since life is a journey of balance, the youth recognized the areas that required attention at that time. Each youth was encouraged to do the exercise again on paper in a few months to see how they have evolved and grown. I was impressed with the level of self-awareness, intuition, dedication and interest the young people had in learning how to become healthy leaders.
Participants were also guided through a visualization exercise that promoted self-awareness and also practiced relaxation. Given that this exercise was conducted in a 90 degree Farenheit tipi with outdoor noise, the youth embraced this experience and challenged themselves, and they benefited from this exercise. They shared their stories of what their visualization meant to them in terms of obstacles in their life, support systems and how their future looks.
This experience has left my heart filled with pride and joy for the young people who will be leading our nations someday. I am honoured to have been a part of this and met some youth who have impacted my own life. I wish each one of them wellness and pride on their journey through life. Chi-Miigwetch for allowing me to be a part of your journey.
Sarah Blackwell is a Holistic Health Coach and works with individuals struggling to maintain a balance between health, family and work.