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  • Vermilion Voice

3rd Annual Work-Stress-Life “Striking A Balance” Conference

From left, speaker Derek Collins, conference coordinator Darla Yonkman, and speaker Michelle Cederberg at the 2019 Work-Stress-Life “Striking A Balance” Conference in Vermilion. Photo Angela Mouly

Approximately 200 people attended the 3rd Annual Work-Stress-Life “Striking A Balance” Conference at the Vermilion Regional Centre on January 29. Participants had the opportunity to hear from multiple speakers and visit 15 wellness vendors and agencies. There were several door prizes, and even a mini session for college students in the evening. Keynote speaker, Kevin Hines, shared his story and said, “It is okay to not be okay. It is not okay to not ask for help.” He also noted that listening to music has the power to affect people’s brains in a good way. Happiness Basics were shared by the Kalyna Country PCN; and MEd, Psy, CCC, Derek Collins shared The Body’s Response To Trauma. “The #1 population to suffer from PTSD is children in foster care; more than soldiers or first responders. When we go through or face a lot of stress with trauma, our toxic stress stays there and affects our body and can affect our genes. For example, a study in Holland showed grandchildren of WWII survivors had signs of malnourishment even though their parents had none. In Canada, with women pregnant during the Ice Storm, their children showed signs of weaker immune systems and were more sensitive to stress. Especially in our rural areas, I can’t imagine how hard being a first responder must be with the probability of knowing those you are attending. In regards to the reconciliation process, I was asked, ‘Haven’t we done enough?’ but as we are becoming more aware of generational trauma, I think we need to change our response,” said Collins. He challenged participants to answer an adverse child experiences questionnaire as well as a resilient youth strengths inventory. After noting the importance of healthy relationships, and that people can learn to regulate their emotions; he suggested strategies including meeting people where they are at, preparing to be tested, connect and clarify, create safety, plan for bumps in the road, build a web of support, and encourage staff wellness. “All behaviours are a form of communication,” added Collins. Speaker, Michelle Cederberg shared the Success Energy Equation. She said, “Some days we need a little boost, but we are put on this planet to make a big impact. We have control over so much more than we give ourselves credit for. Ask yourself, ‘What is your version of success?’ We all have the capacity to build greatness in our lives. One of the best things we can do is keep the vessel full. Ask yourself, ‘What are you passionate about or what fulfills you?” said Cederberg. She encouraged participants to get present, and stop living on auto-pilot. She suggested setting goals, writing them down and putting them where you can see them every day; keeping a positive mindset and assessing how they can achieve their goals; adding discipline by adjusting habits, and adding energy by maintaining healthy exercise, nutrition, sleep, relaxation, and relationships. Overall, everyone enjoyed the conference, with powerful reminders from the speakers, and the promotion of wellness for oneself or the community. “I’ve attended this conference all three years, with it getting bigger every year. It’s a great venue to interact with other agencies and become known as a resource for this community,” said FASD Educator, Jen Willes. Participant Shirley Scott said, “Because of these speakers, people have learned total awareness about topics that don’t get brought forward, as well as available resources and their role.” “The topics came from the surveys filled out last year, and the conference was a huge success. Listening to the speakers today gave us all hope, and gave us an opportunity to learn that it’s okay to ask for help. A big thank you to our donors; without their support, this conference wouldn’t be possible. Thank you also to the conference committee for all of your hard work,” said conference chair, Darla Yonkman.

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