Agassiz student Emma Potts speaks during the Ignite Abbotsford event at the Phoenix Ballroom on Wednesday night. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)

Ignite Abbotsford focuses on Passions and Perspectives

Several guest speakers, including from Agassiz, featured at event

Ignite Abbotsford brought together several guest speakers focused on the theme Passions and Perspectives, Wednesday night at the Phoenix Lounge in Abbotsford.

Master of ceremonies was Ignite Abbotsford founder Karen Copeland from Champions for Community Mental Wellness. Copeland organized this year’s event with Agassiz Centre for Education (ACE) administrator Sandy Balascak.

The speakers at the sold-out event came from a variety of backgrounds to share their passions and challenge participants to think of the things they might be able to do to make a difference in their own communities.

Presentations included ACE student Emma Potts discussing “An Alternative Perspective of ‘Problem’ Youth,” Balascak taking about “Problem Youth vs. Youth with Problems” and counsellor Ted Leavitt discussing “20 ADHD stories in 5 Minutes.”

As co-organizer, Balascak was thrilled by the community support and turnout.

“The community really rallied around and embraced this,” she says. “For us as organizers, it was almost overwhelming, the response we got even before we did it.”

Balascak emphasizes the power of representation at the speaker event.

“We had parents, we had councillors, we had educators, we literally encompassed the community,” she says. “We set it out to be a community event [and] we made sure it was. We had a variety of ages [and] backgrounds…and not all Ignite’s do that.”

READ: Agassiz student to speak on youth issues at Ignite Abbotsford

Balascak adds how proud she is of her student, Potts, for taking the stage and giving her “alternate perspective” on an issue that has impacted the 16-year-old personally.

“Of course I’m a little biased,” Balascak says laughing. “It was a personal story and it came from the heart. And I mean that’s hard for any kid to do, even talking one on one. But to stand up in front of 115, mostly adults…I thought she did fabulous.”

Also among the speakers were students Caylee Watrin, Kenzie Mills, Clara Parker, Bailey Cryer and Cambree Lovesy from the Wellness Week Team at Robert Bateman Secondary in Abbotsford.

Luke Dandurand from the Langley school district discussed “Reigniting Aboriginal Culture, Teachings and Language” and Langley teacher Katherine Mulski spoke about “No, 2.0.”

With files from Vikki Hopes

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