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‘No matter how old we get, life provides opportunities’

Sudbury Living Magazine March 14, 2016 Anna Barsanti No Comments


Where can I begin describing the awesomeness of this past week? Leila is usually the reason youthfulness remains the centre of my core, well I must confess those youngsters I work with at GSPS were the motivating factors this week. I am not talking about the Chief’s Youth Advisory Council that is also the touchstone to my inner youth, the Community Mobilization Unit, yes the people I work with day in and day out.


The reality set in a few weeks back at one of the weekly meetings when we started bouncing ideas to better connect with the youth in the secondary schools. The synergy, enthusiasm, the excitement as each new thought germinated the seed that will become a reality this spring brought me back to different school brainstorming sessions focused on how to have fun with the students. Those of you who knew me during the teaching years are familiar with my antics and love of performance. Yes, the woman with no formal training in song or dance or comedy would lap up any opportunity. Many times in the classroom setting laughter would be the modality to connect the learning. The Dance of Joy at Northeastern actually had some up dancing to begin their day. From my first years to my last years in teaching the range of engagement to have the students see me as the life coach educator included but was not limited to: slapstick comedy – pie in the face kind; inadvertent scenarios like missing a basketball pass in front of an entire school to get hit in the head; dressing up and being the custodian for a day – by the way that is hard work; lip syncing; teacher vs. student games; teacher vs. media or police or anyone as long as it was a fun game; props like the stuffie I had in my office that would say “I love you” if you walked by – imagine being the custodian in my office when no one is there; etc. etc.


Now I am working with a group of people who could very easily be a team of educators figuring out how to reach the youth to connect. This only reiterates my belief every single one of you reading this missive today is an educator. If you interact with an infant, a child, an adolescent, or a young person (and for me there are lots of young persons in my life, which will only increase with each passing year) – you are an educator. Before I go any further, understand clearly the educator is also the recipient of the learning – it is the only way learning/teaching will succeed. So choose the dynamic at the moment: student to student – are you both learning or educator to educator – are you both teaching or are the roles interchangeable educator to student, then the student becomes the teacher – the dynamic is not as important as the fluidity and the embracing of the fluidity. Oh let us not forget the elders in our lives. This dynamic is for all. The focus today is simply as I stated because of what is transpiring this week at work.


So what got me so pumped this week as our unit was walking out the door to attend a super secret mission I held back to observe them chatting, laughing, anticipating – all great energy as we were embarking into new territory. Transported back into a time when the hubbub was for us in schools to do the same thing. Time travel does exist; the faces simply change. And our unit teacher for this secret mission is younger than us all. We all listened. We all tried our best. We used humour to get us over any bumps in the road. And the teacher said we surprised her at how ‘good’ we were. Guess that happens when you are open to learning.  Stayed tuned for the follow up in the spring.


The clincher that reminded me I still have it in me occurred yesterday in the early afternoon. The Polar Plunge fundraiser for Special Olympics Ontario, yes folks the CMU Hotties – Cheryl, Joann, Samantha and I jumped into Lake Ramsey. We even won first place for our costume – thanks Cheryl and Samantha for your fashion sense. Our team won first place for team fundraising, not bad considering we didn’t confirm our registration until mid-week. Sounds simple when stated so matter of factly, however as with most events in our lives, especially first time events there can be a little trepidation. Why would I even consider such a thing? Peer pressure? Proving I still have it in me? Wanting to be a part of the group? Forgetting how old I am? Who knows? Maybe it was the result of a combination of all? Once the words ‘yes, I will’ were out. I was in.


Now there are few days when doubt rears its ugly head. What if I have a heart attack and die? What if when I get out I am so cold my hands and feet curl up and getting dressed is next to impossible? What will happen to Leila? What will my sponsors think of me if I chicken out? Those are just the questions – there was also the physiological response – upset stomach, anxiety, waking up at 1 a.m. the night before and wondering – “What was I thinking?” Well I am here to tell you, I am still alive and appreciation for following through is alive and well. We were the only team with a doctor – Dr. Ogundimu. She told me she only works with small ones, I confirmed we fit the criteria. There were first responders at the event and some believed I had an inkling to feign a heart attack to be rescued. Let’s face facts this was an opportunity several hugs before the event, even from those who don’t hug afterall there was a chance it would be the last time. And of course, I got hugs after the event. I believe others were happy I survived. I thanked the firefighters for being there to save us only to learn two of them were my students. Love it.


No matter how old we get, life will provide us with opportunities. Will we grab the ring or not?


Take time this week to grab the ring. The outcome may surprise you on so many levels.

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