On Sunday, April 29 at 220 Burnhamthorpe Road West in Mississauga, took place the first Ideal Me training organized by Dr. Ewa Antczak from the Core Center. The program is intended for young people aged 12-18 and its aim is to strengthen their self-confidence, improve self-esteem and help them to develop skills necessary for achieving personal success.
Ideal Me was received very well, both by young people and their parents. More than 85% participants said that they liked the day spent on the training very much, and 100% that they learned a lot of new information. On Monday we received many phone calls and e-mails from parents who were asking about the date of another training. They were telling that their children came back home exultant, with new friendships and many information which they happily shared with their families and friends. A question ‘did your child like the training?’ was answered either “very” or “he/she adored it!”. It is a great news, especially that the majority of young people who attended the program described themselves as “shy”, “bullied by peers in the school” and “unworthy”. There were also those who, despite self-confidence and great results at school, felt lost and not very effective, easily falling into anger and frustrations.
Before the training many parents complained on difficulties with convincing their children to take part in the program. However, the most important part of self-development is stepping out of a comfort zone. Doing what we feel safe and good, we always take ourselves away chances to gain new experiences and information. This is why I congratulate the parents on their determination and the young people on overcoming their anxieties and weaknesses. This is definitely the first step to success.
We started Ideal Me training at 10 AM with a mindfulness session led by Amal Benoit, a psychotherapist from Core Centre, who for more than 20 years has been cooperating with mental health agencies. In the Core Centre, Amal conducts a therapy for children, young people and adults, which goal is to improve well-being and the quality of life.
During Dr. Ewa Antczak’s session, teens learned that self-confidence or shyness is a matter of choice and that the mindset and the way we think about ourselves can be changed through the brain training. The participants heard that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and that both of them should be developed so we could become as good as we can be. Dr. Antczak was talking about the importance of positive first impression formation and how we can use body language, expressing emotions and tone of voice to acquire self-confidence and to be more likable and respected by others. Participants learned the techniques of dealing with negative situations and criticism, as well as, how to improve their mood and reduce stress.
During the program, students learned how to be more assertive. They also learned skills important to maintain positive self-esteem and self-image, as well as visualization technique as a tool to facilitate the process of achieving goals and cope with stresses of a daily life. Participants found out that human brain is emotional by nature and unable to differentiate facts from imagination. Therefore visualizing future self can be very powerful in the way of achieving success.
After a short break, Brian Crombie, CFO of Ottawa Senators, spoke about using once abilities in a creative way and how failures strengthen character and make us tougher. He spoke about ways to be more likable and the importance of focusing on the vision of success. On several occasions, Brian Crombie stressed importance of determination in the way to achieve goals, resiliency, resistance to negative life events, as well as overcoming obstacles and own weaknesses. He illustrated his presentation with several examples from his high school and business studies at Harvard University.
During the lunch, Anthony Kolozetti and Cliff Callaway, the founders and directors of My School Rocks program, allowed participants to experiment with various musical instruments. Participants created a rock band, proving that we should be open to new opportunities and experiences, even if we are shy. Some teens discovered their hidden musical talent and passion for art. It was a great demonstration how music improves self-confidence and faith in oneself. Later, Anthony Kolozetti and Cliff Callaway spoke about the benefits of music for mental health.
Dr. Ewa Antczak conducted an interactive quiz during which participants were using computers, iPhones and iPads to test their knowledge about emotional intelligence. The participants learned how the positive thinking influences emotions and behavior and how to deal with criticism. They were taught relaxation techniques, strategies to improve mood and reducing stress.
Ursula Urac, Mrs. Canada Globe, were telling that the essence of self-development is not comparing oneself with the others but seeking to developing one’s own talents in a constructive and healthy way. She was also telling how important is caring for health, hygiene and appearance.
Despite a little fatigue, the participants were relaxed and smiled until the end of the training. During the workshop they had a possibility to walk around freely, interact with each others and use technology. An unquestionable advantage of the training was a fact that the attendants could see that they are not alone in their fight with shyness and negative emotions, and, more importantly, that both shyness and low mood can be overcome by the proper mindset and relaxation techniques. It is possible due to the consequent training of body and mind.
The obvious conclusion is that the program such as Ideal Me is really needed nowadays. For over 15 years I have been observing the suffering and wasted talents of promising young people and their parents desperation.
As a school psychologist, I encounter many difficult cases and I know that a lot of tragedies may be avoided if counteractions are undertaken early enough.
The program such as Ideal Me, which increases and develops self-confidence, self-esteem and teaches the strategy of coping with stress and difficult situations, may be an answer to the problems of the contemporary world. Currently, we are dealing with alarming statistics concerning declining mental health among young people and its consequences such as problems in school, difficulties with finding a job, but also drastic situations such as Florida school shooting or Toronto massacre.
I would like to thank our media partner: Gazeta Gazeta, as well as the Polish Teachers Federation, Etobicoke Children’s Centre and Mississauga Arts Council for the cooperation and help with promoting the event.