A Fort Saskatchewan teenager is looking for ways to take the stress out of going to school.
St. Andre Bessette Catholic School Grade 12 student Anika Lukie is a member of the Alberta Education minister’s 2018-19 youth council. Lukie is one of 33 junior and senior high students from across the province chosen to take part in the council.
The youth council, an initiative of Alberta Education, aims to give students a formal way to help shape changes to the province’s education system. The council met for the first time October 12 - 15 to share their insights on issues affecting youth in Alberta’s schools.
Lukie reports that the discussions gave her a chance to learn more about how the education system works.
“It's usually thought of as a linear system with the government at the top and the students at the bottom,” she said. “But in reality there are so many different nuances that play into it, that you can impact something in one area but it will completely change something else.”
Council members shared their insights on a few different topics at the meeting, including anti-racism efforts and equity in education. Lukie hopes to make her voice heard on one issue in particular – mental health.
"For me the big thing is creating student-led dialogue around mental health to break that stigma,” she said.
The pressure to achieve can be stressful for students, Lukie said, whether it’s about getting into a good university or keeping up with appearances online.
“I definitely think that there's a very specific form that students, and even just teenagers in general, are supposed to fit into,” she said of images on social media. “And it's very unachievable. But I think that a lot of people do try to achieve it. And it causes a lot of stress."
Lukie will be collecting input from students, teachers and parents about changes they’d like to see in education. She’ll also be meeting with her fellow St. Andre Bessette leadership team members to open up the discussion about mental health in schools.
“Just so that people can become more comfortable with the idea of mental health and how it can impact them in both their education and their day-to-day lives," Lukie said.
Ultimately she wants to make sure no young person has to wake up on a school morning worried about the day ahead.
"I think that it's really important that we try to reduce those stresses and make education less of a place where people dread going and more of a place where they know they can learn in a safe environment."
The council will meet again in February and May.