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Thousands Zoom into virtual stress management sessions

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As kids adapted to the new virtual ‘classroom,’ a Zoom visit by Red Cross Ambassador, Saskatchewan Roughrider Dan Clark, was a welcome chance to chat about dealing with stress for a group of Yorkton, SK students.

“My favourite part was when he said the different things he did when he was stressed out,” said Grade 4 student Eli Beatty, who along with classmates, parents and teachers from Yorkdale Central School joined in the pilot presentation.

“Some of the things he did are things that I do on a regular basis... he just lies down, or plays football with his friends, or plays some video games and that sounded a lot like what I do when I have some free time.”

Shaune Beatty, Eli’s dad and the school’s principal, jumped at the chance to host a virtual presentation with Clark. Having past experience working with Red Cross and its ambassadors, he knew he could expect a quality presentation based on solid research.Shaune Beatty and his kids, Eli and Piper, are avid Roughrider fans.

Shaune Beatty and his kids, Eli and Piper, are avid Roughrider fans.


“Not only did the kids need a break from the online education . . . but the message that we were able to deliver to them was a positive one,” he explained, noting that with COVID, kids had a lot of change to endure in a short amount of time.

“Their way of life changed; how they attended school changed; the way they connect with their friends changed; playtime changed; and, even how they interacted with the public changed so there was a sense that the students were probably experiencing some natural levels of anxiety, even stress.”

Red Cross Ambassador Dan Clark led the 30-minute session that included a question-and-answer segment. He talked about his approach to dealing with stress and provided examples of positive ways he copes with difficult times. He also spoke about other proven techniques that help to respond to stressful situations. Students were then invited to share their own experiences and talk about how they were coping.
Red Cross Ambassador and Saskatchewan Roughrider player Dan Clark shows off his Grey Cup ring during a virtual presentation.

Red Cross Ambassador and Saskatchewan Roughrider player Dan Clark shows off his Grey Cup ring during a virtual presentation.


“Roughriders are revered in Saskatchewan, so the kids are certainly glued to his message,” said Principal Beatty. “Dan was able to give us some concrete examples about how he has dealt with anxiety throughout his career, especially playing football. When someone’s a big tough professional football player and he’s able to share stories like that, I think that is something the kids can identify with.”

With the great success of the pilot session, the Red Cross expanded the initiative, running it for the final three weeks of the school year. In all, Red Cross Ambassadors and Saskatchewan Roughrider players Dan Clark, Kienan LaFrance and Jorgen Hus spoke to 42 schools in 24 sessions over the three-week period, reaching about 1,250 families.

To join the list of schools interested in hosting a virtual visit in the next school year, please complete the online form here.


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