Monday, May 27, 2013 11:45:28 MDT AM
Many of you who know me will be aware that, although myself and my family have spent the past seven years in Alberta I grew up elsewhere.
I was born and raised in England and this is often hard to hide. With my outlandish accent and my crazy sense of humour, often the first question I am asked is “Where are you from Australia or England?” Then once I have explained I am from the colder island, the one without the fantastic beaches the next question is often… “Hey I know someone in England, his name is John, John Smith, do you know him.” Once I have recovered from my internal laughter I have to explain that even though you could fit five England’s into Alberta, the population is a huge 54 million compared to Alberta’s population of 3.6 million.
In a country like England that has areas of such dense population, it is sometimes surprising to understand that being well connected to our friends and communities is challenging and often does not occur consistently. Often the myth is; if you are around lots of people you must be well connected!
Being connected for children is also key for them being resilient and bouncing back from life’s ups and downs. New observational research suggests that for children just one friend is enough. If a child has one friend this can help them buffer against mental health issues such as depression. Further research indicates that if a child has at least one friend, their chances of encountering a mental health issue later in life reduces by 50 per cent.
Over the past two years we have become well connected as a family in many areas of the community. Being connected to a local church has helped us to grow friendships and being connected to many of the local sports groups has helped our family stay active.
Simple connections help to grow stronger children and being connected to children and youth happens when we show an interest in what children and youth like to do. It happens when we encourage our children and youth to participate in their community. When we connect with children and encourage them to connect with others we make them stronger.
My challenge to you is this — take account of the friends in your life and your children’s. This week take some time to spend with a close friend and encourage your children to do the same. Show gratitude to your friend and bless them with a coffee or tea! Staying connected takes effort and time but being connected keeps us healthy, happy and mentally well!
Connect with those in your life!
— Chris Lees is the project co-ordinator for Aim for Success.