Former Saskatchewan Roughrider and Grey Cup Champion Richie Hall was the Keynote Speaker at Kipling School’s ‘Wellness Day’ last week.
Hall (who is currently Defensive Coordinator for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers) says that the event in Kipling was the first opportunity that he has had to speak with students in recent years.
“I used to spend a lot of time traveling around to schools and events like sportsman suppers in communities all over Saskatchewan, but since I started working with the Blue Bombers, I’m in Winnipeg for much of the year. And during the off-season, I’m often traveling or involved in other things.
“So, I haven’t had the chance to do something like this for a while now.
“But a staff member at Kipling School got in touch with me through a mutual friend late last fall and asked if I’d be interested in speaking at Wellness Day. I told them that I’d be happy to do that!”
Hall explains that he spent some time researching the topic of wellness prior to the event and decided to focus on three key components of wellness in his presentation.
“When I was going to school, we didn’t have events like ‘Wellness Day.’ And even though we faced some of the same struggles, they often came later. For example, instead of dealing with the issue of drugs at 17 or 18, students now might be dealing with that issue when they’re much younger. ‘Wellness’ is also a very broad topic. So, I did quite a bit of research and thinking about what was most important for me to say to the students.
“I decided to focus on how three key things – physical health, mental health, and spiritual health – contribute to our overall wellness. As Keynote Speaker, I had the chance to do a presentation to all of the students from Grades 7-12 and I gave a general overview of these three components of wellness during my presentation.
“Our physical health, of course, means taking care of our bodies and making sure we do things like eat properly and get enough sleep. Taking care of our mental health means finding healthy ways to deal with the struggles we face and making sure that we have someone that we trust to talk with. And I also touched on the importance of spiritual health, which allows us to reach outside ourselves and helps us to find love, peace and hope.”
Hall goes on to note that following his presentation, he was able to take part in discussions with smaller groups of students.
“There were several ‘Break-Out Sessions’ with me and other presenters that students had signed up for ahead of time. So, I did two Break-Out Sessions with groups of about 15 to 20 students from various grades.
“During those sessions, I talked about motivation – and I asked a lot of the questions. I asked the students what motived them, both in school and in life.
I also encouraged them to think about the fact that they control the choices that they make, but that they would also be responsible for dealing with the consequences of their choices.
“For example, I told the students that nobody had physically ‘forced’ them to go to school that day. Going to school is something that they choose to do. But they have to make that choice with the understanding that, if they don’t go to school, there will be consequences. Their relationship with their parents and teachers will suffer. And if they choose not to go to school often enough, their education and ability to get a job.
“Understanding that the freedom to make choices comes with responsibility might be one of the things that motivates them to make good choices.”
During his presentation and subsequent discussion with students, Halls says that he encouraged those dealing with mental health issues specially, to seek out the resources that they needed to contend with their challenges and improve their overall wellness.
“We all experience mental health issues and mental illness in some form. I told the students not to be afraid to talk about what they were experiencing, and not keep these things bottled up inside. Often, someone dealing with mental illness has to be their own advocate and find what it is that they need. So, it’s very important that people know what resources are available to them, and not be afraid to use them.
“I also stressed to the students that, if they want to be successful, they had to define ‘success’ for themselves. And when it comes to something like wellness ‘success’ looks different for everyone. For one student, that might involve getting more sleep or improving their eating habits. For someone else, it might mean dealing with entirely different issues.”
Hall says that having the opportunity to take part in Kipling School’s Wellness Day also proved to be a beneficial experience for him.
“It was very educational for me! Since the time I was a student in school, I’ve always tried to learn something new every day, even if that means learning very simple things, whether you’re inside a ‘school’ building or somewhere completely different.
“As a coach, I’m trying to equip the players I work with to achieve their best, which is very similar to what teachers do. When I go back to Winnipeg this season, I’m going to be taking many of the things that I heard at Wellness Day with me.”
His hope is that the students he met last week gained insights through Wellness Day that will help them as they move forward in their lives.
“School is all about learning how to make better decisions and develop the skills that you need when you assume adult responsibilities. Even if one person was impacted by something that I said, that would make the day worthwhile for me.”