Not for Ourselves Alone: The Joanne and Derek Francis Scholarship Fund

World travellers, Joanne and Derek Francis in Japan

Derek Francis, husband of much loved York House teacher, Joanne Francis, has set up a fund, The Joanne and Derek Francis Scholarship, to assist a student who otherwise would not have the opportunity to attend the school and experience a York House education. Joanne taught at York House from 1979 until 2001 and is remembered as a most dedicated and energetic teacher and colleague and a great friend.

Derek, also an educator shared, with Joanne a deep commitment to education as well as membership in the YHS Legacy Society. He had appointments at UBC, University of Manitoba, Douglas College, and is Vice President Emeritus, Kwantlen Polytechnic University after working there for 35 years. Derek understands the significance of education for young women and wants to encourage them to take on leadership roles for the benefit of all. The gift of this scholarship truly reflects Joanne and Derek’s thoughtful philanthropy and will continue their legacy of commitment to education for students now and for future generations of Yorkies.

Alumnae Association President Joanne Lee-Young ’90, one of Joanne’s many students commented, “Our scholarship students exemplify the values Joanne nurtured in us. It’s very fitting she will be connected to them through this new scholarship. I know how much Joanne cared about YHS students who worked hard, were mindful of the school motto, Not for Ourselves Alone, and gave back to the community. She always championed them.”

Ms. Francis at York House in Chronicle class

It is well over a year ago that family, friends, alumnae, staff, both past and present, gathered and overflowed from the Columbus Residence Chapel in Vancouver, to celebrate the life of Franny as she was fondly known. Her husband Derek, who was married to Joanne for 48 years, shared the touching story of his first encounter with the young woman with the sparkling blue eyes. Alumnae shared heartfelt stories of the impact she had on their lives as a teacher and friend.

Ms. Francis and her editors: Blackwatch editors, Erin Hope-Goldsmith ’01, Stephanie Lang ’01 and Zanita Kassam ’01, and Chronicle editors, Lianne McLean ’01, and Kristin Nowzek ’01

Throughout her career at York House, Franny enthusiastically took on a variety of roles and guided countless students through Physical Education, English, Journalism, and YHS Chronicle (yearbook) classes. She bridged the print and digital world with her students, who experienced the learning curve with her, and were inspired by her patience and generosity of spirit.

With their miniature Schnauzers Tuki and Tyler

After retirement, Joanne kept in touch with many of her students throughout her life, attending class reunions, sharing her numerous travel experiences and her avid participation in the 55+ BC Games as well as her passion for two miniature Schnauzers, Tuki and Tyler. Joanne and Derek, you both continue to be a great inspiration to us all. Thank you!

If you would like to contribute to The Joanne and Derek Scholarship fund in memory of Joanne Francis, click on the link below. Under designation, select the Joanne and Derek Scholarship fund and include your tribute instructions under donation information.

York House School Foundation Scholarship Funds

For information about the YHS Legacy Society, click the link below:

York House School Legacy Society

A Tribute to Sherry (Robson) Taylor ’73

Sherry’s connection to York House began with her mother, Audrey (Wilson) Robson’s alumnae tales from the early years of the school. In 1961, as the youngest York House student, she had an auspicious beginning with the chance to unveil the first building block of the Junior School with head girl Victoria (Frost) Vogrin ‘61 and Mr. H. R. MacMillan.

Twelve years later, after playing a vital role on the student council since her arrival in the Senior School, Sherry was elected Head Girl 1972-73 and gained the respect and affection of the YHS community. After graduation, Sherry’s leadership role continued as Alumnae Association President in 1974, a role she would take on two more times as her passion and commitment for York House evolved.

When her daughter Devon started kindergarten in 1989, she became a devoted class parent, spending countless hours volunteering at the school. Sherry contributed in every imaginable way including Alumnae Representative to the Board, Class Parent, Alumnae Class Rep, YHS Foundation trustee, phonathon volunteer, band trip chaperone and more. In 1996, Sherry’s exceptional dedication and Yorkie spirit were recognized when she received the Alumnae Special Achiever award for Community Service. As a special tribute, the alumnae introduced a new award named “The Sherry Robson Taylor Spirit Award,” which is presented each year to a student who emulates Sherry’s enthusiasm, energy, and love of York House.

Sherry, her mother Audrey (Wilson) Robson ‘47 and daughter Devon Taylor ‘02, receiving the Sherry Robson Spirit Award in 1999

Sherry’s Yorkie spirit and enthusiasm led her to be the initiator of many firsts. In 1993 she inspired and co-chaired the first ever York Rose Ball and in 1998, it was a highlight of the school’s “Celebrate Sixty” festivities. In 1995 she chaired the first New Parents’ dinner and co-convened the Fall Market (1997-9). After co-chairing the York Rose Ball again in 2002, she became an Honorary member of the Parents’ Association and agreed to chair the ball in 2007 for the school’s 75th birthday.

Sherry welcoming new graduates at Hycroft

In 2002, Sherry started a long standing YHS tradition, by hosting a luncheon each year for the grads at the University Women’s Club of Vancouver at Hycroft. Her great-grandmother Dr. Evelyn Farris had founded the club in 1907 along with eight other university women and what a perfect location for the grads to be welcomed into the YHS Alumnae Association.

Always an outstanding example, Sherry constantly modelled the school motto, “Not for Ourselves Alone”, both in the greater community and at York House.  During her tenure as President, the Alumnae Association Scholarship, close to Sherry’s heart, was initiated and grew to become a full scholarship in 2006. Sherry also managed the Margaret Barbeau Alumnae Uniform Shop for many years to raise additional funds for the YHS Alumnae Scholarship. Sherry was a founding member of the YHS Legacy Society to ensure the future for Yorkies and generations to come. In 2012, Sherry was awarded Honorary Executive Member of the Alumnae Association for her years of service.

Sherry and daughter Devon demonstrate Yorkie spirit at a YHS gala

Asked during a 75th birthday interview what made her so passionate about the school, she responded, “The lifelong friendships, the camaraderie, the school’s values and traditions and the confidence it instills in its graduates. I’m really proud of the accomplishments and success of York House alumnae in academic, athletic, and artistic areas and the way Yorkies hold true to the school’s motto Not for Ourselves Alone. I have been so very fortunate to have a relationship with this unbelievable school. My memories are irreplaceable–how lucky am I. Thank you York House.”

After living her life to the absolute fullest, Sherry, a most beloved member of the York House community passed away on April 10, 2018. On Saturday May 5, family, friends, alumnae, YHS parents and staff past and present gathered at York House School to celebrate her amazing life. She will be remembered for her tremendous strength and courage, her welcoming smile, trademark sense humour and fun, golden hearted generosity, and unstoppable spirit. Sherry was never dampened by the challenges that came her way and never allowed her long struggle with Lupus to limit what she could accomplish.

Click here to read Sherry (Robson) Taylor’s obituary.

If you would like to make a donation in Sherry’s memory, click the links below:

The YHS Alumnae Scholarship

The BC Lupus Society 

Anna Baird ’03 – A Woman on the Rise

Anna at the WNorth launch in London, England

Anna, when did you graduate from YHS and describe your career journey?

I graduated in 2003. My journey really started at PwC in the CRM and Customer Experience space for the Advisory line of business. I shifted into more in-depth growth programs such as Sales, Marketing, and Insight Methodologies across consulting and technology, more recently heading up the Professional Services Team for EMEA and co-leading the Global team at LinkedIn. My current work, post-Microsoft acquisition of LinkedIn, has been advising existing startup advisory work and a shift into supporting consultancy to enterprise businesses around operations and digital brand. It has been both refreshing and challenging to be my own boss for a few months. Parallel to paid work, I volunteered my time and expertise to WNORTH’s London launch which has been an invaluable personal and professional enhancing experience.

We were very pleased to have you at YHS last year when you gave a presentation on building your digital brand online.  Where are you currently working?

I am currently a freelance consultant, about to incorporate my services under the name Cocoon Advisory Limited. While I have not ruled out going ‘back’ to a large tech business, I have thoroughly enjoyed the day to day mixed engagements across startup world and enterprise world. Drawing energy from how I impact people and organizations, my more popular workshops have been presentation skills: verbal and written as well as my two-hour business priorities focus group.

Shirin Foroutan ’94, centre left, participating on the panel

You’re now based in the UK; do you get an opportunity to connect with other YHS Alumnae?

Being based in London has allowed me to have close Yorkie friends nearby, as well as forging new links such as getting to learn from the fabulous and incredibly insightful Shirin Foroutan from the Class of 1994.  Shirin recently kindly agreed to speak at the London Launch of WNORTH on June 14th at Canada House . Shirin was and is everything we talk about when it comes to true leadership – a true role model. I felt proud to call Shirin my friend, and someone who could be so impressive and yet so approachable. The power of the YHS Network.

You’re passionate about women in leadership and empowering other women. Tell us a little more about that professional journey.

I believe that the future of cities, of business and of living is through a healthy dose of diversity of thought. More recently the UK Government required that businesses report on their gender pay gap. I don’t think this is simply a matter of pay, this challenge goes deep into a multi-faceted problem. Drawing on societal norms and the early days of education, socialization of how boys and girls are supported through their schooling has played a huge role in what core skills are represented when we class students by gender. And from schooling all the way to talent pipeline and progression in the working world, lacking skill sets has led to gender dominated industries, a challenge that means diversity of thought is not available let alone championed. Gender is just one part of the conversation, and in fact, as a society, we need to be more open minded and welcoming to all makeups of people. Recognizing unconscious bias is the start to that conversation and if I can be someone that changes my language for the betterment of my community and someone that leads by example, diversity of thought should be a thread we weave throughout our systems for a better together future.

We paired you successfully with a young alumna, Mercedes Fogarassy from the Class of 2013 who was interested in the same career path. How has that mentorship relationship evolved?

Working with Mercedes has been rewarding. I am a mentor to her just as much as she is to me. Reverse mentorship is the key to someone who is experienced but needs a fresh outlook on how the marketplace is changing. We, Mercedes and I, learn equal amounts as we share in depth conversations about career pathing, skills development and goals (both personal and professional). We have a healthy balance of open/honest and constructive work alongside the more emotional side of how we grow as people. I have loved the YHS link to Mercedes as so many of my other mentee/mentor relationships have been derived from my workplace (a slightly different commercial focus) and/or family-friends (a much more personally-geared mentorship.

When are you back in Vancouver again?

I am hoping to be back again in September for a fellow Yorkie’s wedding and some potential client meetings. The beautiful part about supporting global and multinational businesses is that travel and mobile working go hand in hand, allowing for some good personal visits paired with knowledge and skills of how to adapt to how different regions do business. ‘Always be learning’ was said a lot at LinkedIn and traveling for work and pleasure allows that to be my reality.

June Brown Cliff Scholar Rae Maryse (Laljee) Nagy ‘09 Returns to Share Her Story

 Rae-Maryse at the Celebration of Scholars event on April 19th, 2018

What can you recall about your first introduction to York House? 

It was evident that I would be challenged to push beyond my limitations while exploring and discovering my personal potential. The teachers at York House were always on hand to provide extra tutorials outside of regular class time and it is this type of dedication and care that provided me the opportunity to excel academically.

Describe how you felt when you were awarded the June Brown Cliff Scholarship?

I was ecstatic and completely overjoyed. This is not an opportunity I have taken for granted nor is it one that can be easily measured. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Cliff family and the foundation sponsors for making a significant difference in my life.

What was your first day of school like?

I will always remember the first day I walked into the school through the cafeteria (if you know me I love food and I had to check out the menu). I vividly remember that day. I was nervous and frankly overwhelmed. As I walked through a student approached me and with a big friendly smile she said “Hi! Are you new to Grade 8?” I answered a small “yes” and was pleasantly surprised when she opened her arms and gave me a big hug. The sense of belonging I felt then still resonates today.

How did you immerse yourself in the YHS community?

I served as class president, student ambassador, sports head, and had the honour of being elected by my peers and teachers to serve the student body as Head Girl. York House offers many extracurricular activities that are so important for building team and communication skills.

You graduated in 2009. What did you do after YHS?

I hold a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting from Thompson Rivers University, and I am currently completing a Masters of Professional Accounting at the University of Saskatchewan. I am scheduled to write the Common Final Examination (CFE) in September 2018 to designate as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).

Volunteering and giving back is important to you. Describe your work with Big Sisters.

Volunteering with Big Sisters has equally benefited me as it has my little sister. I have a great desire to empower young girls to reach their full potential by cultivating individual strengths, building resilience to social pressures that impact body image, and helping to nurture a positive social environment. It has been a rewarding two years.

You were recently back at York House for our Celebration of  Scholars event. What were your impressions?

It was a privilege to witness the words shared by the strong, kind, and courageous young women at YHS. It still stands true that every girl is encouraged to continue her pursuit of excellence in academics and character and reach beyond her limitations. I still feel a strong sense of community as I spoke with current and alumnae, staff, and administration.

Latest Edition of the York Rose: March 2018

Dear Alumnae,

We are pleased to share with you the latest edition of the York Rose featuring profiles on some of our truly amazing alumnae from around the world. You will also find highlights from some of the many events throughout the year where Yorkies continue to celebrate their connection to the school as well as the friendships that they have with each other. We hope that you enjoy!

If you would like a printed copy mailed to you, please contact us at alumnae@yorkhouse.ca.

The Business of Making Puzzles: Nicole Benda ‘84 and her Entrepreneurial Journey

What did you do after graduating from YHS in 1984?  

I studied at UBC and obtained my BA in International Relations. After graduating from UBC, my first position was as a marketing assistant for a shopping centre management company and that is where I found my true career direction. I then enrolled at BCIT and studied part-time, while working full-time which made for some very long days, and obtained my Marketing Communications Certificate. From there I went on to work in a number of industries in various sales & marketing and human resources positions. In 2009, my husband and I adopted our son and I decided to stay home to raise him and became a domestic engineer ☺

What memories do you have of your time here?

I had a wonderful six years (Gr. 7 – 12) at YHS – it was an amazing learning environment which fostered great friendships, one really felt part of a close-knit community. Some of my favourite memories include the annual YHS Market, a trip to Seattle to visit the Tutankhamun exhibition, and playing centre for the basketball team. If memory serves me correctly, during our year we were only qualified as exhibition so it’s been great to see YHS become a powerhouse in basketball over the past couple of decades.

Describe your journey with Butzi Kids? What is Butzi Kids and how did it get its name?

In 2014, I wanted to buy a children’s puzzle of Vancouver and Whistler and yet I couldn’t find anything that I liked. This is what gave me the idea for Butzi Kids. As our son was about to start kindergarten, I knew this was the right time to venture off and create a business of my own – I decided that I was going to design and have manufactured children’s puzzles, placemats, and prints of Vancouver and Whistler. However, I had to learn everything from starting and running a business, manufacturing, freight forwarding to wholesaling, since I had no experience in any of these areas. I was very fortunate to have a collection of family, friends, and associates who had the relevant expertise who guided me along – it was a lengthy and challenging process but I was so motivated that it was all very exciting.

Butzi (pronounced boot-sy) is the German nickname we gave our son when he was a baby and since we made a lot of puzzles together while he was growing up, I thought it was fitting to name the company after him.

What are the most important life/business lessons you’ve learned along the way?  

A couple of key life/business lessons I have learned are attitude is everything and if you’re handed lemons, start making lemonade as there’s always a Plan B. It is important to realize that the challenges in front of one are surmountable with perseverance, and that one doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel – there are lots of people in one’s network who are more than happy to help and to share their experiences.

You attended an alumnae networking event last year. Was that your first time back at YHS since graduation?

Over the years, I had gone to the annual YHS market and it was always very nostalgic being back on the school grounds.

What challenges, if any, do you have with managing all aspects of your business?

As a one person operation, it can be very easy to procrastinate getting to the ‘not so exciting’ tasks of the business, or the tasks that aren’t ones forté, which for me was the social media aspect of the business. I am an old-school marketer so I struggled with putting out posts via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. I considered myself very lucky when I was chosen for a Shopify podcast where I received a ‘social media makeover’ with the help of Vancouver’s social media expert, ‘Miss 604’ Rebecca Bollwitt. She was fantastic to work with and learn from – the crash course in social media helped me immensely.

  1. Do you have any advice for young alumnae staring down the entrepreneurial path?

As cliché as it sounds, if you set your mind to something and you have the passion and determination, run with it, anything is possible! Do your research, gather information, and talk with as many people who have the expertise or contacts to help you along. There are so many excellent resources out there. I made good use of the internet and the library for resource books and I found Small Business BC to be extremely helpful. I felt along my journey that I kept getting the green light during the different stages of my business idea, and before I knew it, it became a reality.

 

Fellow Yorkie Makes the Forbes Europe “Top 30 Under 30” List

 

Natasha Ratanshi Stein ’09

Natasha, what did you do after you graduated from York House School?

I moved to London after graduating York House in pursuit of a BSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics (LSE). I graduated from the LSE in 2012 and then immediately started working in the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) division at Goldman Sachs in London, where I had interned during university. After spending two years at Goldman, I moved to venture capital to work for Piton Capital, a small fund where I was the third member of the investment team and I am still there.

What kind of student were you at YHS?

To be honest, I can’t say I was the greatest student for a while. I know my mom still keeps my report cards somewhere, and I think up until around the 10th grade I had pretty average grades (I even remember something in the 50s for band when I had too much trouble waking up for morning rehearsals and never handed in my practice sheets). The great thing about York House is because of the small class sizes, it helps you find your passion, and for me that was the humanities subjects, which I realized in my last couple years at York House. Once I found that passion, and I was at a grade where there was more flexibility around picking subjects, I started to do much better as I was super excited about what I was learning about. This meant I started spending a lot of my spare time reading about the topics I was studying at school, which in turn made me a better student

How did you initially enter the investment banking field? [NOTE: I’m not in investment banking anymore, but was until 2014]

I entered finance completely by accident. My York House teachers might remember I was too much of a Marxist for Wall Street during my time there. I had gone to LSE hoping to pursue a career in international development and save the world. Suffice it to say, after attending a few career sessions in those fields I became somewhat disillusioned with the bureaucracy and I was worried about the unclear paths for progression in those fields. A friend of mine invited me to join her at a career evening hosted by Slaughter & May, a law firm, to see if law was something that interested me. What I had learned was that it wasn’t the documentation and drafting of contracts that interested me, but the financial aspects such as establishing the value of both businesses, determining the synergies, and exploring financing options. Both my parents are entrepreneurs, and being able to work with entrepreneurs and operators at a critical time for their business was something that really excited me about investment banking. Having said that, within the two years I was at Goldman, I realized my heart was with earlier stage businesses, like the ones I had been exposed to at the dinner table growing up. I had worked on some technology transactions at Goldman, which fuelled my interest in venture capital. Being closer to the operations whilst still being able to use the skills I had developed at Goldman and working in an increasingly exciting and fast-moving industry are all components in my current job in venture capital that keep me very excited.

Describe a typical day in your current position?

In venture capital, our role is to identify early stage businesses that we think are in an interesting market and at some point can provide us with attractive financial returns. Piton Capital, where I work now, is one of the few extremely specialized venture capital funds in the world. We only invest in online businesses that benefit from network effects, which means the product or service improves as more people use it. The job varies enormously day to day, so it’s very hard to describe a typical day. I would say if I had to crudely break it up, I spend about 30% of my time in meetings with entrepreneurs who are pitching their businesses, 40% of my time analyzing companies and conducting diligence and 30% of my time managing our existing portfolio, where I help them with strategic advice, sit on their boards and act as an advisor for decisions such as recruitment, new market expansion, pricing etc. I am usually travelling around once a week, mostly across Europe as we invest actively in markets such as Germany, France, Poland, and the Nordics. We’ve also done deals in Egypt and Pakistan.

Do you see yourself staying in London or moving back to North America?

It’s very hard to answer this one and attempting to answer will either anger my parents or my current employers so I’ll decline to comment.

You were recently listed in the 2018 30 under 30 Forbes Europe – Finance List.  Tell us more about that experience?

It’s humbling to be recognized in a list which also includes Kendrick Lamar, my favourite rapper. When I’m home, I frequently drive around Vancouver blasting his song “Humble”, and the Forbes inclusion has reminded me to take the (explicit) advice in that song seriously. Life can be so hectic that it can be hard to take a step back and reflect on your achievements so being part of this list was a good opportunity to do that. More than anything, the outpouring of good wishes it triggered was a reminder of how many people have supported me and how grateful I am to them.

Will Brexit have any impact on your career path?

Brexit is destabilizing for both the UK economy and its social fabric. My career, along with many others, benefit from the diversity and talent that Britain has embraced over the last fifty years. The Brexit vote has brought to the surface many divisions in British society and has taught us that unfortunately, many of the benefits of being an open and tolerant nation seem to be at risk. From a career perspective, many of the UK’s top entrepreneurs are migrants, from the EU and elsewhere, and many British businesses have been built by the hard work of migrants. My fund invests across Europe with our most active market being Germany, so we are not directly impacted by Brexit in any major way. We are already starting to see new hubs of activity emerge in more European cities and Europeans move back to their countries of origin. While I think this will be detrimental to the UK, our flexibility around investing across Europe will still enable us to continue to invest in the most promising companies and back the best entrepreneurs. The UK faces a lot of uncertainty in the coming years, and it’s my hope that the voices calling for a more tolerant and open society don’t lose out to those seeking to divide.

Did any one person or teacher influence you at YHS?

Absolutely. It would be impossible to pin it down to one person. York House is a place that really enables it’s students to find their passion. When I found my passion, there were countless teachers who were there to make sure I was achieving my potential. Mr Cropley, who would do weekend cram sessions with us ahead of our AP European History exam and who I am still in close contact with for when I need to ensure my career doesn’t pull me away from my socialist roots. Ms. Irani, who was extremely supportive in helping me navigate the nuances of applying to a UK university. When LSE required 5s on five AP exams despite the fact I was only doing four AP classes, I dropped math in order to teach myself AP World History. LSE didn’t like that and informed me only two months before the math provincial I had to complete math. Thankfully Mrs. Massel was there to rescue me and taught me the entire Math 12 curriculum in two months. I would say one of the best classes at York House was Mr P’s AP Human Geo class which really opened my eyes to the functioning of society and how rap music conveys societal workings (maybe this is what inspired me to start taking Kendrick Lamar so literally!)

 

Psychiatry and a new book about sleep: all in a day’s work for Dr. Smita (Reebye) Naidoo ‘99

Smita (R) pictured with her friend and business partner, Andrea Bell.

You graduated in 1999. In terms of further studies, where did you go after York House?

After graduating, I went across the pond to Dublin, Ireland. I was there for seven years completing my medical degrees and internship training. It was an incredible time to be there as Ireland had just switched to the Euro currency as a member of the EU. A true snapshot for me of living through political and historical change.

Describe a typical working day at BC Children’s Hospital?

That’s a tough one, because there is no “typical” day. This is what drives me to working in the emergency department. I start my day checking in on the admitted patients with our entire team. We problem shoot, review medication and treatment. Most importantly, we make sure the families of the children admitted are consistently involved in the “loop of communication.” That is the only hour in my day, set in stone. The rest is dependent on who presents to the Emergency Department. We get paged across the Province and the Yukon by family doctors and paediatricians asking us for educational support on ethical or high risk situations.

You kindly came back to York House to speak to our students during Career Day a few years ago. What was that experience like?

I was so nervous! The hardest thing to do, is to inspire a group of intelligent and driven young women despite their personal experiences, cultural background, and passions. For me, speaking in front of adults, and other clinicians is the easier part of my work. Being able to look an an audience, and see why they took their time to listen to me, is definitely an art I am continuously working on. There is nothing more that matters to me then the mental health, and overall wellness of our youth. One thing that is on my bucket list, is to craft and deliver a speech to the graduates. Even better, maybe address the year one of my Yorkie nieces graduates (2025!).

Your new publication for kids is about the importance of sleep. How did this collaboration come about and tell us more about Polly & Pickles

Believe it or not, I met my business partner, now dear friend Andrea Bell, on a plane ride from LAX to YVR 30,000 feet above ground! We instantly matched and had a shared vision of creating children’s books with a meaning.

Within less than three months, Paper Clouds Project Ltd was born. We self-published our first book on sleep, which was just released this January 2018. We chose sleep as our first book because clinically this is the simplest way of altering the behaviour of a child and the environment of a home. Andrea was personally adjusting to having three children of different developmental ages and found that in the working-mom world, the value of sleep is under prioritized.

 Did anyone or any one experience inspire you at YHS to follow your dreams of being a psychiatrist and author?

Yes. Absolutely. Mr. B! It’s amazing the impact a few comments, experiences can influence us to the core, to our gene expression. Mr. B was like a father to me, when he was training us for track meets, and inspiring us to do more. I still remember when he was discussing muscle physiology and used me as an example. It touched me, because that authentic validation in front of my peers, truly set further ground work to a healthy self-esteem. Alongside my parents, and two older brothers, Mr. B certainly made me feel I had gifts to share with the world.

For members of our community with young children, provide three tips on how to get our kids to sleep smarter/better?

I have one word for you R.E.D.!

  • Routine! If you can make one change, create a cheat sheet for sleep with your child. Make two copies, one in the washroom, one in the bedroom. From the moment your child/youth enters home after a busy day at YHS, their routine begins! The misnomer is that if you have a “good bedtime routine” things should work out. Not true! Transitioning from a structured environment (i.e. school) to a semi/non-structured environment, sends signals to their brains making it more scattered, unsure, and even anxious. Ground a few things: homework time, dinner time, fun/social media time. This is the most beneficial and most sustainable gift you can give your child. This level of routine, trains your body clock (i.e. circadian rhythm) on when to release melatonin and other hormones promoting good sleep and brain growth.

 

  • Environment: Make sure the child’s bedroom does NOT have a desk for study. Associating a child’s room with anything but calm, is never a good idea. A desk, if used for study, then sub-consciously associates the room of stress, deadlines and at times, poorer self esteem. Keep it minimalistic, filled with meaningful objects for your child (not your own aesthetic pleasure). By doing this, you are giving your child the autonomy to create their sanctuary with some guidance. Due to limited space, busier lifestyles, our rooms are now multi-purpose. This is one room, you want (for the entire family) to only serve for one purpose alone…sleep/relaxation.

 

  • Distraction Devices: aka iPads/mobile phones! There may be many changes with technology, but one thing which has stayed consistent over the years, are the guidelines of screen time. No screen time two hours before bedtime for the entire family. The way to avoid the “power struggle”, ALL family members, give up their devices with the EARLIEST bedtime in the home. This then creates a uniform expectation and the child/youth no longer views this as a punishment or that they are “missing out” on something.