Since coming to Assumption at 2003, Brett Todd has worked to address student’s mental health.
Brett Todd felt like the kid sitting at the big boy table on July 24, the day he was one of two Albertans recognized with the Inspiration Award in Bullying Prevention.
“There are agencies with multi-million dollar budgets, who set up entire programs, and here’s a little old me who plays rugby with the kids and has a D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) club,” said Todd.
“It’s a little bit weird, but it’s nice that someone’s recognized. The really good part was Mrs. [Lynne] Vining thought to nominate me–to be respected by your peers is sort of really cool.”
The awards are given to people, groups or businesses who contribute to violence prevention and advance healthy relationships.
Approaching 18 years in Cold Lake, Todd has been working to improve student’s mental health back when it was not as commonly addressed.
“It’s all individual counseling and then program work and prevention. The nice thing is you can dedicate all your time to that whereas in a school system that doesn’t have a person like me, it gets divvied up and kind of sequestered off,” said Todd.
“It’s kind of nice to have these positions, where the mental health of the students is your job.”
The challenges teenagers face today is different than even five years ago, Todd believes, and they respond well to real connection in a digital-infused age.
That’s where Todd’s role comes into play.
“It’s just about trying to make sure every kid’s got a space. You know, because not every kid’s comfortable in every space,” he said.
“The beautiful thing about rugby, which kind of fits my mentality towards working with teenagers, is there’s a space for every kid. I don’t care if you’re fit, I don’t care if you’re a big guy, we got a space for you. If you’re slow, we have a space for you. If you’re big and fast we have a lot of spaces for you.
“If you show up and put in the work and need a place to be–we’re in.”
He believes the Lakeland is fortunate to have schools with people in these mental health roles and praised LCSD and NLPS for their efforts.
“There are six people who do this job who I think do as good a job, if not better than I do in this district,” said Todd.
“And that’s just our district, every school in the Lakeland is lucky to have a position like me, that is dedicated.”
With files from Chris Lapointe.