My Experience at Disable the Label 2014
By April Kent
When Gloww (Giving Light Offers Worth and Wellness) heard about Disable the Label over a year ago, everyone was excited for the experience of camp. Having only been with Gloww for a month, I didn’t know much about it other than that it would be a Leadership camp. I’ve always been interested in learning more about mental health and learning how to be a better advocate, and role model. We were told that only 3 youth could come to camp, so we had to vote on who was able to go. It took a while to decide, but after almost an hour of people giving up their positions, to us even pulling names out of a hat, the names were chosen. Sarah, Anna and I. I admit it wasn’t the best way to choose who was going to have this amazing experience, but I decided I was going to make the best of it even if it meant not all of our group members could go.
We arrived about 5pm the Tuesday night. Almost right away you could tell it wasn’t going to be like those summer day camps you’re used to going to as a kid. Well of course not, it’s a leadership camp. After getting settled into our rooms we would be staying in for the week, everyone headed out for our first activity. Day one was all about the introductions and “Getting Grounded.” Mother nature decided to make it rain but we put the best into creating our Collective Sculpture. We all picked something that showed how we were feeling at the time and made a sculpture of all our items, and sharing our stories about them. The rest of the evening was spent getting settled in and getting to know each other a little better.
Day two’s theme, was Open Mind. Our first activity of the day was to share with the group what we were hoping to get out of the experience at DTL. We learned what DTL was all about and what would be happening through the week. As a group we created a mural to show what we wished to happen through the week, and how we wish to be treated.
Our next activity was for our groups to start sharing our stories. Our group had a chance to meet Shed the Light before we shared our personal story. They are from Orangeville, Ontario. About 45 minutes from Gloww. They also share presentations at schools. It was amazing to see that each New Mentality group is similar in ways, but also very different.
One of my favourite activities of the week was the Continuum of Empowerment. This is where we learned how youth have an impact on people and in mental health, and how much we can empower and inspire others with words. Another favourite of mine was the World Café! In a group of four, there were three rounds, where we brainstormed answers to 3 different questions based around mental health. We got to understand more about what the New Mentality means to us as a community, and what more we need as a community to understand mental health as a whole. The hosts helped us create an awesome poem as a group by the end of the session!
At the end of the day our last activity was Human Clay. I sadly didn’t participate as I wasn’t feeling well, but from what I heard from others it was a pretty cool way to learn about other issues such as racism, and other things that impact a community. I’m sure this was an amazing activity and would love the chance to participate next year if it is included again! The rest of the night we spent relaxing and hanging out by the campfire outside. It was a long night and most of us stayed up pretty late.
Thursday was sadly, our last full day. I slept in that morning and did not get a chance to participate in the singing and dancing circle that Peter and Jasmine hosted. I was told it was pretty great, though! When I woke up everyone was down at the Art Making Station. Sarah and I worked on some Mandela’s, and they ended up in Sarah’s page of the DTL scrapbook! As well as a drawing Sarah found but we weren’t sure who it belonged to so she put that in as well.
The next activity of the day, and I think my favourite was Skills Marketplace. The group got to participate in different sessions hosted by the hosts. The first session I participated in was Modern Day Griot, hosted by Jasmine and Camille. Jasmine shared her experience in sharing her story, and the group got to learn how to improve our own stories as we wish to share them in many ways from spoken word, to video, or art and sculptures. We learned how to structure our stories in a format that is easy for others to understand, and how to get over the anxiety that comes with sharing personal stories. Session number two, was Creative Facilitation, hosted by Peter. The group learned ways to make a social situation more comfortable, and how to speak and share as a group in a more effective way.
I feel like everyone can agree that the rest of the night was probably the best way to spend the last day; the Talent Not Required Show. Everyone had such amazing talent to share, even if they might not realise it! We all had a lot of fun watching everyone preform. I think everyone can look forward to that for next year as well. Again, it was another long night. But I think everyone wanted the last night to go on as long as possible.
Sadly, on to Day four, the last day of the week. Of course, Friday morning was all about saying our goodbyes, and packing up for the long ride we all had to get home. Our first thing to do for the morning was Show and Tell, in which groups gathered around to share each others items they’ve been selling in our communities. Gloww ended up giving away one of our hoodies- congratulations Savanna Berry! She was the most enthusiastic about getting the chance to win, and after putting everyone’s names in a hat of who entered, no surprise, our Allies ended up picking her name out!
Our next and final activity of the week was Moving Forward, in which we shared how we felt our communities can move forward with what we are doing in the New Mentality. We had more conversations as small groups of how we can move forward and continue to work together. It was a great way to end the week and we learned a lot about how we can help improve as the New Mentality. Also realising that together, we can do great things!
Finally, we all came together to participate in the Closing remarks and ceremony. Cathy and Caralyn hosted the Closing remarks in which we all got to hear what our next steps as the New Mentality would be. The Ceremony was hosted by Savanna and TJ, who helped us in a spiritual, cultural way to say goodbye by preforming a ritual and helping us understand our Aboriginal ancestors. We got to thank everyone for being a part of the event, and I also said my part that I felt needed to be said from myself and Gloww.
Thank you to the hosts, Jasmine, Peter, Cathy, Caralyn, Amanda, Jaydon, Spencer, Camille, Jordon, Duane, Jermaine, and everyone else involved for making DTL such an unforgettable experience. Myself, and the others who were with me from Gloww, have learned a lot that we hope to be able to share with the rest of Gloww, and our community as a whole. I’d also like to thank Gloww itself for giving me a chance to have this amazing experience. It is something I will always remember and it is so hard to explain the experience to others. It’s definitely a “You had to be there!” type of experience. We will definitely keep in touch with everyone and most definitely hope to be back next year for DTL2015 For now, don’t forget to #SelfCare!