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Youth health conference in works

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FORT FRANCES—A Youth Health and Wellness Conference, presented by Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre and the Métis Nation of Ontario Health Branch Services, is being planned for March 27-28.

Interested youth are encouraged to register as soon as possible.

The free two-day workshop, which will be held at La Place Rendez-Vous here, will highlight such topics as youth smoking, substance abuse, relationships, sexual health, fitness, and nutrition.

“We’re having some amazing speakers come in,” enthused organizer Shauna-Leigh Carlson, who also is a health educator with Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre.

“I was trying to get Sue Johanson here,” Carlson noted, referring to the popular sex educator. “But she wasn’t [available] for that day, so I asked who else I could call and they put me in touch with Josey Vogels.”

Vogels is one of Canada’s premier sex and relationship columnists, and often is referred to as “Canada’s Carrie Bradshaw” (the character made popular in the television show “Sex and the City”).

She also is an author, talk show host, and media commentator, and is particularly known for her book “Bedside Manners,” as well as her column “My Messy Bedroom” and the TV program of the same name.

“She’s going to talk about dating, relationships . . . she wanted to know about the issues in our surrounding communities,” Carlson said.

“She’s very interactive with the audience,” Carlson added. “Instead of just getting up there and talking, she gets them involved and gets them thinking.”

Another speaker lined up for next month’s conference will be Judy New, a Comanche who holds a triple Master’s degree in Nutrition, Education, and Biology.

When New arrived in Canada, no aboriginal nutrition programs existed in Toronto, so she initiated the first heart health education held at Anishnawbe Health Toronto.

She currently works as the aboriginal diabetes trainer at the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres, serving 28 centres throughout the province.

She also is the nutritional consultant and commentator on David Wolfman’s television series on APTN, “Cooking with the Wolfman.”

Other speakers at the conference will be the duo of Don Young, program manager with Superior Points Harm Production program in Thunder Bay, and Brian Brattengeier, with the Thunder Bay OPP Tri-Force Unit.

They offered a presentation to Grade 7/8 students in Mine Centre, Atikokan, and here at J. W. Walker School last April, where they spoke about drug abuse.

In fact, Young used to be a drug user and drug dealer who now provides insight into what that was like.

The conference will run from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. both days, and lunch and snacks will be provided.

Carlson is encouraging teachers, service providers, parents, and caregivers to register and attend with their group, class, or family members aged 14-29.

“There’s going to be a lot of information presented, but I hope it will be fun and not boring for the participants,” Carlson remarked, adding many prizes also will be up for grabs throughout the event, including a laptop computer, Apple iPods, and a digital camera.

“Everyone will go home with something,” she said.

Registration forms will be available at area schools and many service providers. Those interested also can register by contacting Carlson at 274-3131 or slcarlson@vianet.ca

The deadline to sign up is Friday, March 14.

“But since it’s free of charge and space is limited, people should register as soon as possible,” Carlson stressed. “We haven’t had an event like this in recent years and I really hope youth come out and participate.”

(Fort Frances Times)

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