Red Deer Public School Division

Two local businesses honoured for leaving a lasting impact on kids

Two local businesses were recognized by the Public School Boards' Association of Alberta for leaving a lasting impact on thousands of Red Deer Public students.

Jo(e) Social Media received the Special Contribution to Public Education: Media Award, and 360 Fitness received the Special Contribution to Public Education Award at a banquet last weekend.

Jo(e) Social Media is educating thousands of students and their families in regards to digital citizenship and social media as they encourage an open dialogue between parents and their children.

Fact is, there are many opportunities for kids to be using social media in positive ways and good habits can generate a great digital history. Joe Whitbread and Jo Phillips, Co-Founders of Jo(e) Social Media help quell suspicions, steer positive conversation and get kids and adults on the same page to start using social media safely, positively and with a powerful voice. It's imperative that kids start writing their positive digital history, and that parents become aware of their impact on their kids’ history.

Whitbread and Phillips have made it a priority to talk to as many youth in Central Alberta as possible regarding the highs and lows of social media. Since 2015, they have been offering a number of school presentations to school districts across the province from Fort McMurray to Southern Alberta, free of charge, allowing them to speak with over 22,000 students.

Red Deer Public has been the beneficiary of these presentations which have included:
Digital Citizenship and Social Safety (Grades 5-8)
Digital Citizenship and Mental Health (Grades 9-12)
Personal Branding (Grades 9-12)
Social Media For Parents

The impact of these presentations is far reaching. Both Whitbread and Phillips say, in every school they speak at, regardless of grade, the feedback is the same: The teachers are amazed they held the kids attention, and had the kids interacting with them. They all express gratitude for the message, but also let them know they provided some much needed perspective and understanding to them. The kids feel heard. In high school, the students leave understanding the gravity of some of their actions, and the potential impact it has on their lives. And in every single presentation – regardless of grade – they have a child approach them and report something that makes them or a friend unsafe. In every presentation, they have a child approach them with excitement over something cool they’re doing with their social media. 

In addition, Red Deer Public Schools has had an ongoing partnership with 360 Fitness for the last several years. As our District has emphasized staff wellness as a priority, this partnership continues to grow.

About seven years ago, 360 Fitness approached our District to help improve the health and wellness of our community’s youth. Brooke Einarson-Schaab, Vice President of Operations at 360 Fitness, said they had seen many adult community members come to their gym that were living unhealthy lives. They decided to take a proactive approach, target school-aged youth and instill healthy habits in them in hopes that they would see a decrease in this trend.

They have done this in many ways including hosting a Health Action Day at a recreation centre in Red Deer where they teach students healthy habits, which has included students making healthy snacks, learning different exercises, and opening up the conversation of leading a healthy lifestyle.

During some of our District Professional Development days, 360 Fitness has offered a variety of wellness sessions for our staff, which are always popular. They often have to add a second session.

As well, for the last four years, 360 Fitness has held an annual gala where they have raised money for our District’s breakfast programs, new Phys. Ed equipment as well as new equipment for cafeteria’s for healthier meals.

Last November, 360 Fitness raised just over $16,000 at their gala to put towards a new program called The RISE (Recognizing Inner Strength and Energy). This program is a team effort of 360 Fitness, Red Deer Public Schools, partners in the community and volunteers to make this happen. Starting this month, 40 youth in grades 6-12 have been nominated for the program, which runs until the end of May. Through physical activity, healthy lifestyle promotion and education, counselling support, mentorship, and the building of healthy relationships, the overall goal of the RISE program is to help youth recognize their own inner strength and energy so that they may go on to live healthy lives. This initiative is intended to promote health, wellness and positive connections with peers and adults.

Congratulations to both Jo(e) Social Media and 360 Fitness and thank you for making a difference in the lives of kids!