Vernon Paralympian Josh Dueck speaks to Coldstream Elementary students at the school’s Living Library on Thursday, Nov. 28. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Vernon role models are open books at North Okanagan school

Well-known locals told their stories to students as part of the school’s ‘living library’ on Thursday

The gymnasium at Coldstream Elementary school was transformed into a library on Thursday, but it wasn’t the sort of library school kids are used to experiencing. There was no shushing and plenty of conversation.

The school held its first ever “living library,” bringing in 20 well-known local individuals who volunteered to be “human books” and take the time to tell personal stories of adversity and triumph.

In answering students’ questions, they all proved themselves to be open books.

“The conversations were so engaging and the kids were right into it,” teacher-librarian Heather Acob said. “I was just so impressed that these human books would give up their time and volunteer… I can’t help but think that they changed lives.”

Each speaker was set up at a round table and spent 20 minutes with small groups of students at a time. The students were able to pick four speakers whose stories they wanted to hear and switched tables in 20-minute intervals.

It was a diverse list of human books for students to choose from, but the one common thread was the importance of having open conversations, and speaking to people with different experiences.

Brent Worrall isn’t just a human book; he’s also the author of one. He wrote an autobiography entitled Motocross Saved My Life from its Darkness. He gave students at his table a synopsis.

The book contains details of his career as a top-ranked motocross athlete, the accident he suffered in 2011 that left him paralyzed from the waist down, his battles with alcoholism and his journey of recovery.

Most importantly, he explained how he’s learned to talk about his past struggles, and how putting them into writing has been a freeing experience.

“I might not be proud of all of the content, but I’m very proud of the man that the journey has made me,” he said. “Each and every one of those things that I feared talking about for whatever reason — I don’t have any of those fears now. It’s like they’ve magically been lifted.”

At a different table, local entrepreneur Jaye Siegmueller told students about her zero-waste businesses, which include Kelowna’s first zero-waste grocery store, Farmbound, and a body products business that opened just two weeks ago and is already hitting the shelves of 14 different retailers.

READ MORE: Coldstream students kick up their heels for Eli

READ MORE: Enderby students start own school newspaper

Former NHL player Eric Godard spoke to the kids at his table about his career as a fighter on skates, which tied into discussions about concussions, fear and the culture of hockey.

“It was nice that there was a real variety of questions,” Godard said. “A lot of them had questions about injuries and concussions (and) they had questions about stress and anxiety.”

Stress and anxiety were topics discussed at more tables than one, since they’re among the most prevalent issues among today’s students according to School District No. 22 drug counsellor Doug Rogers.

“That’s the No. 1 thing kids talk to me about,” he said. “Anxiety has exploded in our society,” said Rogers, who led his own table focused on substance abuse.

Rogers said while anxiety issues persist, improvements have been made around mental health and substance abuse because of conversations like the ones that took place Thursday.

“We’re getting there. That needle’s moved to where the kids can now talk about it.”

Other speakers included double-deca triathlete Shanda Hill and paralympian Josh Dueck.

Jen Millan of the Mental Illness Family Support Centre spoke about raising her three children with autism, while local environmentalist Aaron Nasipayko described the work he did to clean up Kalamalka Lake aboard his paddleboard.

“They were awesome,” Nasipayko said of the students at his table. I think the best questions they asked were about where we go from here, (and) how this can happen in the future again.”


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Okanagan among Canada’s most at-risk habitats: WWF report

Report found the Okanagan is inadequately protected despite being a hotspot for at-risk species

Kelowna sea cadets grab medals at local biathlon competition

Three cadets from the 93 Grenville Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps brought home the hardware

From UBCO to Okanagan College, the campus-to-campus race returns

The half marathon and race relay will take place on Sat, April, 4

Foundry Kelowna receives $15,000 to support mental health mobile unit

The funding comes to the Canadian Mental Association from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund

Investigation continues two years after theft from West Kelowna school PAC

Glenrosa PAC had approximately $20,000 stolen from their bank account in 2018

UBCO students raise funds for those affected by Philippine volcano eruption

All proceeds will be donated to the Philippine Red Cross

American lawyer charged with allegedly smuggling restricted firearms across Osoyoos boarder

Shawn Jensen allegedly smuggled AR-15, Ruger .22 over U.S./Canada border, with no licence.

‘Naughty boy’: Monty Python star Terry Jones dies at 77

The comedian has been suffering from a rare form of dementia

Immigration program not taking away North Okanagan jobs

The pilot is helping employers overcome a skilled labour shortage that can’t be filled solely by residents

Vernon-based company nominated for B.C. small business award

Summit Tiny Homes is one of five finalists for the small business award

Harry and Meghan should cover their own security costs: NDP heritage critic

The prince, Meghan Markle and their eight-month-old son Archie are reportedly staying at a mansion near Victoria

EDITORIAL: Examining finances

Municipal budget will likely mean higher taxes

Summerland’s proposed budget requires $16,382,355

2020 budget is nearly half a million higher than the 2019 municipal budget of $15,905,410

Theo the 800-pound pig trimmed down and still looking for love on Vancouver Island

“He’s doing really well, lost quite a few pounds and can run now.”

Most Read