A panel of six people, including three teenagers, Julie Parr, Elaine Spencer and Ian Wheeliker were asked a series of questions from the panel’s moderater Irving Kurz, about building healthy relationships, and what that looks like. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Healthy relationships theme of annual non-violence conference

The fourth annual Vision for Non-Violence conference was held in Sylvan Lake, Nov. 2.

The Central Alberta Regional Coalition Vision for Non-Violence held its fourth “Creating a Vision for Non-Violence” on Nov. 2 in Sylvan Lake.

The theme around this year’s conference was happy and healthy relationships.

A lot of the information given during the conference, through discussions and the guest speakers, was directed towards teenagers and the parents of teenagers.

This is especially true of the programming form the morning which revolved around bullying, healthy teen relations ships and empathy.

Many of 115 registered attendees were teens from the region, which organize Colleen Lewis said she was happy to see.

Three of the teens, two from Sylvan Lake and one from Rimbey, in attendance also sat on a panel for healthy relationships to give the teen perspective.

According to the three teens, and the three other panelists, Julie Parr, member of the education team at the Saffron Centre in Edmonton; Elaine Spencer, social worker and co-editor of “Social Work Ethics: Progressive, Practical and Relational Approaches”; and Ian Wheeliker, executive director of the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter Society, all agree a healthy relationship is teamwork and equality.

“You need to feel safe in your relationship, any relationship,” explained Wheeliker.

The conference, which changes location each year, uses education as a way to begin prevention of violence in our society.

Part of the Vision for Non-Violence’s goal is to ensure all communities within the coalition uses the same language when approaching the situation.

The panel moderator Irving Kurz, interim team manager of the Domestic Relationship Violence Initiative Committee in central Alberta, summarized the panel by saying a healthy relationship is one of mutual benefit, long-term vision and equality, whereas unhealthy ones tend to be one-sided and serve only one of the parties.

The group also participated in an activity that gave everyone the chance to see another perspective.

The group was divided in tow, based on hair colour, and asked to move into the middle when a question pertained to you.

The group was asked questions like; “Who isn’t from Canada?”, “Who has ever felt lonely?” and “Who is or was the class clown?”

When the group was asked who had ever been bullied and who has ever been a bully, the entire group moved to the middle of the area.

This was an exercise in empathy and looking at situations in another light, which will help to understand those around you.

Wheeliker said to move forward toward a vision of non-violence, everyone must be on the same page, otherwise nothing will get done.

“I envision an orchestra when I think about a non-violent vision. One where we are all have the same music and are all on the same page,” Wheelkier explained.

In his vision there would be a few “conductors” leading the group so everyone will move toward the same end-goal at the same pace.

The conference also gave the event-goers the chance o meet others and network. Many in attendance were social workers, health workers, RCMP, youth and educators.

It was announced at the end of the conference that the 2018 vision for non-violence conference will be held in Rimbey.



megan.roth@sylvanlakenews.com

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