Vernon role models are open books at Coldstream Elementary

Vernon role models are open books at Coldstream Elementary

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 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

Public input on the City of Enderby’s proposed 2021 budget is open until 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, 2021. (City of Enderby photo)
Enderby’s proposed 2021 budget open for public input

The proposed spending plan includes a 2.2 per cent tax increase; public input open until Monday

Coldstream students took over the Your Letters page in the April 9, 2021, edition of the Vernon Morning Star to offer advice to adults about COVID-19. Interior Health took notice and offered their praise. (Vernon Morning Star)
Coldstream students’ COVID advice praised by Interior Health

Grade 2 and 3 classes from Coldstream Elementary took over the Morning Star’s Letters page April 9

Members of the Okanagan Screen Arts Society received a cheque for $1,500 Thursday, April 15, 2021. The funds are to help the society’s efforts as they prepare take over operation of the Vernon Towne Cinema at the end of July. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon dealership gives Towne Cinema a lift

Vernon Watkin Motor Ford, in business for more than 100 years, donated to the theatre with nearly as long a history

Interior Health’s overdose prevention site in Vernon is saving lives. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon’s controversial overdose prevention site saving lives

Site sees fewer problems than expected, but some still want it moved

Vernon Jubilee Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over at Vernon Jubilee Hospital

The outbreak affected four staff, 10 patients and led to three deaths in just over two weeks

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)
B.C. man dies in custody awaiting trial for Valentine’s Day robbery, kidnapping spree

Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks games against Leafs postponed as team returns from COVID-19

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

Old English design elements can be seen in the sign of the Summerland Farm and Garden Centre in 1993. The guidelines are no longer in place, but some downtown businesses still show aspects of the days when Summerland had a theme in place. This photo was taken by Summerland photographer Dan Dorotich. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Summerland’s Old English theme has been abandoned

From the 1980s until the early 2000s, Summerland had design guidelines in its downtown

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Island woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

Becomes first person in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read