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Today we discuss the growing number of suicides in Alberta’s restaurant industry; learn about a new online school for kids with ADHD; and more!
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MONDAY, JULY 12
Good morning, Calgary!

And good morning to this beautiful, incredible, marvellous city I call home.

I was born and raised here, but I think I would have found a way to call the city home even if I wasn't. It feels safe, it feels spacious, it feels comfortable, and it feels like home.

The sprawling skies and their stunning sunsets; did you know Calgary is one of the sunniest cities in North America? I knew that because I often tell my friends that little-known fact with pride.

I love that I can jump in the car and go on a road adventure on just one tank of gas to find some of the most beautiful sunsets and sceneries to capture in photos.

I love the people, the spirit, the generosity, and the vibe. I love that I can go out alone and end up with friends. I can make friends out of strangers. I can take my dogs for adventures and they love the water and the parks the city has to offer.

It may not be perfect but what city is? Calgary is always changing and growing, but there's always that familiarity of it just being home sweet home.

— Krista Sylvester, Reporter

Don’t forget to send in your love letters to Calgary! 💌

Photo of two young reporters standing side by side smiling.
A Calgary chef for Modern Steak recently lost 14 friends to suicide, leading him to raise awareness and team up with the Centre for Suicide Prevention for its annual Buddy Up campaign.   📷 Shutterstock
COMMUNITY ❤️
The pandemic devastated the mental health of Alberta’s restaurant industry 

BY KRISTA SYLVESTER

Although suicide rates in the province are lower than average, they’re higher than ever in the food service sector — and the industry is speaking out.


It’s no secret that the phenomenon of suicide causes a catastrophic ripple effect.

Those who lose loved ones to suicide are left with all sorts of emotions and unanswered questions, says Mara Grunau, executive director of the Centre for Suicide Prevention.

"It’s just such a devastating loss. One thing we often say is that there is no grief like suicide grief. It eats you from the inside. It can create a lot of shame, anger, blame," Grunau explains.

"For a lot of people, the unresolved nature of the loss can be plaguing because people want to make sense of things. We want to understand why, we want to understand how."

When people aren't able to find those answers, it can create all kinds of negative outcomes.

"People can be tormented by grief for years. And for suicide, that grief can be even more intense," she adds.

Suicide rates are down in Alberta, but the food industry has been heavily impacted

The impact of the pandemic has affected many Albertans’ mental health and the food service industry is no exception. Modern Steak executive chef Dustin Schafer has lost 14 industry friends to suicide over the span of the pandemic.

"The biggest thing for us was a sense of community, a sense of belonging. And then when you lockdown, you kind of lose that," Schafer explains.

The restaurant recently held a fundraiser with all proceeds being donated to the Centre of Suicide Prevention.

"Our industry is impacted by mental health issues and during the pandemic, there has been an increase," says Stephen Deere, owner, Modern Steak. "Dustin has lost many close friends to this disease and we just felt it was time to do something."

While the food industry had been hard hit, the overall suicide numbers in Alberta have actually gone down and are lower than the six-year average with 468 suicides in 2020, compared with 601 in 2019 and 630 in 2018.

That doesn’t mean the impact hasn’t been felt, but Grunau says the stigma around talking about mental health has started loosening, which might make it seem like suicide rates are up because it’s more talked about.

"There was a reduction in the stigma. We have an increase in conversation, we're talking about things that we didn't talk about before, and chances are we all know way more people who died by suicide than we realized," she says, adding that in the past families might have chosen to hide the cause of death due to fear of the stigma.

Reach out, ask "how are you" and really listen to the answer

Grunau says that’s why it’s important we reach out to friends who may be struggling, a sentiment Schafer echoes.

"Instead of you know, just saying ‘Hey, man, what's up’, maybe switch up your questions a little bit. ‘How are you doing? What's up? How are you doing today, man? Like, what's up?’," he says.

"I think that's the biggest thing going forward; just being mindful that we're all kind of going through everything and just reaching out if you need help, and reaching out if you think someone needs help."

The food industry is still male-dominated, which is why the Centre for Suicide Prevention teamed up with Modern Steak for its annual ‘Buddy Up Campaign,’ which is a men’s suicide prevention communications campaign.

"In the Western world, male suicide outnumbers female suicide significantly," Grunau says, adding that females attempt suicide five times more than men, but men die three times more than women.

"Life in the kitchen ... is brutal. It’s a harsh lifestyle, super stressful. We know there's an elevated level of substance misuse, we know that the demands are all in or zero."

Grunau says it’s important that the industry and society as a whole have these tough conversations.

"That's enormous, the fact that they're willing to stand up and be vulnerable and honest about what's happening," she adds.

The Distress Centre Calgary Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at (403) 266-HELP(4357).

HIGHLIGHT REEL
◾️
Charges laid in 30-year-old sexual assault case: In the early morning hours of May 4, 1991, a masked intruder broke into a Southview home, where a young mother was home alone with her toddler at the time. The offender attacked and sexually assaulted the woman before fleeing the home. Recent advances in DNA science allowed CPS to identify Thomas Craig Brodie, 48, charge him in relation to the 1991 offence.

◾️  Public school officials are warning about the potential closure of 16 schools in the next eight years due to decreasing enrollment: According to the CBE’s latest student accommodation plan, dozens of schools are now at less than 70% capacity. Schools that could face a decision about their future in the next two years include Scenic Acres, North Haven, Haysboro, and Chinook Park.

◾️ Italy beat England 2-1 in the Euro 2021 final: The win came on a dramatic penalty kick shootout against England. It was only the second shutout in Euros history, after 120 minutes of action ended in a 1-1 draw. It’s the second time Italy has won the Euro Cup.

COVID UPDATE
Calgary
  • 342 active / 94,681 total
  • 0 new deaths / 703 deaths total / 63 in hospital / 20 in ICU
Alberta (updates)
  • 52 new cases / 675 active / 232,411 total
  • 0 new deaths / 2,307 deaths / 229,429 recoveries
  • 4,777,367 total vaccines administered
  • Vaccinations: (12+) 73.9% partial (1 shot) / 53.1% full (2 shots)

  Numbers accurate as of end of day July 8.
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Rundle Studio was piloted during COVID and will be launching in September 2021. 📷 Rundle College Society // Submited
EDUCATION 📚
This new online school is tailored for students with ADHD

BY KRISTY ARCHIBALD

Rundle Studio can reach students with learning disabilities across Alberta and provide them with individualized tools and resources to thrive past their post-secondary education.


Rundle College, a well-known Calgary private school, was founded in 1985 by Dr. Jack Collett and Dr. Rodney Conklin. Soon after they realized that some of their students were falling through the cracks, which eventually lead to Rundle Academy in 1992, a school solely focused on educating students with learning disabilities. Now, in 2021 they aim to add a new (virtual) campus to the roster, Rundle Studio.

Rundle Studio, is an Alberta-Education approved online education school with a similar DNA and focus as Rundle Academy. The school was imagined over two years ago, but piloted during COVID.

John Wolf, has been a teacher with Rundle for 13 years and is now the Principle of Rundle Studio. He tells Calgary Citizen that 15% of all students have learning disabilities and merely 10% of those students go on to a post-secondary institution of their choice.

"Now if you apply this to Alberta, knowing how many kids have a learning disability and only 10% of them go on — we just think that we can do better." He adds that at Rundle Academy 95% of their students go on to a post-secondary program or school of their choosing.

"There’s definitely something we’re doing that is correct, that’s working, and successful. And that's where we wanted to decrease those limitations with Rundle Studio by opening our program up for all students across Alberta."

Who can be a student at Rundle Studio?

This new virtual school is targeted at those students who have mild to moderate ADHD, a diagnosed learning disability, or autism spectrum disorder.

"All students begin with a psycho-educational assessment and we look at the discrepancies between their ability and their achievement level," says Wolf adding that when we know their ability we just have to find a way for them to be able to bring that and meet their potential.

How so?

All lessons are a maximum of 10 to 15 minutes and are all recorded.

"This will really help those students with ADD or ADHD who have slower processing can rewatch and review the material as many times as they need," says Wolf, adding that they also give students specific strategies that help them with task initiation, organization, emotional regulation, social regulation, time management and more.

"For example, if you got a student with ADHD to write an essay they are going to need things separated into smaller steps so that they can regulate and manage one step at a time, instead of 15 — simply reducing the amount of steps and the amount at one time is huge."

Rundle Studio will also use various approaches that include Individual Program Plans (IPP), Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to provide students with a buffet of tools and resources that makes everything accessible.

"We just want to be inclusive and want to give equity to students and be able to meet them where they're at — there is no one-size-fits-all approach."

What about socialization?

This is a question that they get asked a lot. Wolf tells us they have put a lot of work into providing students at Rundle Studio with options for both in-person and virtual socialization opportunities.

This includes monthly meet-ups, field trips, team challenges, and of course fostering online socialization through group work, collaboration, and virtual recess.


And of course, post-covid reinstating their legendary ‘Friday Night Lights,’ a football tailgate at Rundle College that kids from all Rundle schools will be invited to attend and participate in.

Rundle Studio will begin its first semester in September 2021 for grades seven and eight with 14 students per class — so they can focus their personalized approach over this new learning medium. As a private school, there is a cost involved, but Wolf tells us that the admission is less than half of what it would be for in-person learning.

CALGARY ROUNDUP
🍴 FOOD
Fries are good, but have you tried cookie fries? During Stampede only, Black Sheep Bakery has brought back their ‘Cookie Fries’ with a side of their signature raspberry jam dip!

🙏 SUPPORT
The Mustard Seed brought back its Stampede BBQ in a Box to help others while you get some delish food. Choices are 2 for $50.00 or 4 for $85.00. Every dollar supports the people at The Mustard Seed. Pick up until July 17.

❤️ LOCAL LOVE
Have you got yourself a pair of Friday Sock Co’s new Athletic Socks? Pull them up with a pair of Nikes and you’ll nail the cool ‘90s dad-style this summer!

👀 HAVE YOU HEARD?
Globalfest is returning with its spectacular show this August. 🎆 Travel to China, India, Japan, and the Philippines! Tickets go on sale today.

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FEATURED CALGARY CITIZEN
Jackie Trent

Jackie Trent is a first-generation Canadian who was born and raised in Calgary and considers herself part of many communities. Her dad is half Filipino and half African American, while her mom is full Filipino.

She’s married to her lovely wife, Kelly, whom she met through her twin back before the dawn of dating apps. It was love at first sight for the couple, who now have a six-year-old son they conceived via artificial insemination. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease (CHD) called Tetrology of Fallot.

Jackie considers herself a collector of hobbies and will "try anything once," including participating in amateur drag king shows and rugby. Now, she’s trying her hand at learning the piano.  

We sat down and found out what she loves about these communities that are important to her.

Tell us, what is your favourite part about living here in Calgary?

"My favourite part about Calgary is how tenacious we are as a city. It doesn't matter what life throws at us, we are a city of grit and perseverance. Floods, economic busts, pandemics — nothing stops us from thriving. True Calgarians don't leave; they stick around, pull together, and thrive."

If you were born here — what was your experience growing up in Calgary?

"Raising a child forces you to meet your neighbours and your community and the people you do end up meeting aren’t intolerant. They are kind and welcoming and they are unbothered by your "rainbow" family. In fact, some of your kid’s friends wish they had two mommies, too."

What does community mean to you?

"Community means porch beers with your neighbours. Community means having that tree on your street that all the kids climb on. Community means being able to leave toys on your porch and knowing that they'll still be there the next day."

What do you love about the Calgary community?

"I love that we have so many sub-cultures here. Drag. Burlesque. Film. Horror. Roller Derby. I love that we have so many events that allow for these subcultures to grow and flourish."

How have you received support from your community?

"When our son needed open heart surgery it was one of the toughest experiences my wife and I had to go through. Luckily, we received a lot of support from a non-profit called Heart Beats. It is a local grass-roots organization that provides support to families with children born with CHD. They help families with information, resources, financial assistance, and even emotional support. We had to take our son to Edmonton for his surgery and Heart Beats helped us find lodging, connected us with other families, and even gave us gift cards for food and restaurants so we could focus our time on being there for each other and our son instead of worrying about meals."

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