The Balancing Our Minds Health Retreat for youth 19-24 is fast approaching, and it looks to be an event worth checking out.
Why? It’s a free, one day event this Saturday, June 1st from noon until 5 pm at the United Church. Participants get to try multiple physical activities (like yoga and crossfit) as well as have time for self reflection and stories. There will be a catered lunch and door prizes from the Vancouver Canucks and the Foundry BC.
Organized by Stacie Byrne, Project Lead, Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use (CYMHSU) Collaborative Revelstoke, it’s obvious that Byrne worked to bring the community on board with the event, and her collaborators include Lauren Nagy, Jade Levasseur Forel, Alex Monk, Emily Revell and Michelle Schiewe.
It is Revelstoke’s first time hosting the retreat, though it has been held for several years in Vancouver.
“Balancing our Minds Retreat is a youth driven, youth led youth initiatives,” Byrne explains. “This year they put out a challenge to have people apply for the funding to host it within their own communities, and Revelstoke was one of five communities who got the funding.”
Byrne is always on the lookout for new opportunities in the community for mental health supports, and the retreat was, to her, a perfect fit. Not only is bringing in a structure that has been proven to work elsewhere to see how it works here a fun challenge, but also because wellness retreats and mental health go hand in hand.
“This retreat is about coming out and pampering yourself – have an afternoon just for you,” says Byrne. “Try a broad range of activities and see what resonates. Everyone’s path to wellness looks slightly differently. People can explore their path to wellness and have the opportunities to try out some options and see what works for them.”
To ensure Byrne made the most of the retreat, she ran a pilot program several weeks ago.
“It was really well received,” she explains. “People felt it was an uplifting, cool event, where they felt connected.”
A concept practiced at the retreat is Challenge by Choice. “If you want to just do yoga and when it comes to self reflection time and you want to just chill out, chill out,” Byrne says. “Find your own limits and participate where you want. Take what works for you and leave the rest.”
Byrne is bringing more physical activities to the retreat than she had at the pilot. Alex Monk, a Crossfit Coach when he isn’t working his day job as the Chief of Finance and Administration at Parks Canada, is excited to help with that aspect.
“The connection between physical and mental health is, I think, really direct,” says Monk. “For a lot of people, intensity relative to your interest, age, and fitness, is also really important. When you have a chance to push yourself a little bit and go beyond what you think you are capable of in that group setting, you can come out of it with some skills and perspectives that transfer over to other aspects of your life.”
“It’s as simple as doing more burpees than you thought you could,” he says. “Working out with people who can push and encourage you and doing it together safely, is great.”
At the Health Retreat, Monk will be working with body weight instead of equipment, allowing the exercises to be accessible, leaving the attendees with a workout they can do at home, in a hotel room, or at the pool.
Byrne’s passion for mental health is tangible. “The way we see it is that mental health is a continuum,” she explains. “It’s not whether you’re ill or you’re well. It’s that you fluctuate along that spectrum. Picking up patterns, supports and techniques while you’re feeling good is an excellent time to put them into practice. So when you don’t feel well, you already have these elements in place.”
While participants are encouraged to register, Byrne is happy to accommodate anyone who shows up. “If it’s been on your radar but you couldn’t schedule it in, that’s okay, just do it,” she says.
This also means showing flexibility with the intended age range. “A lot of people want to bring a friend, someone who is their peer. A peer may be older than you. So if you’re 24 and your peer is 30, we are keeping those doors open.”