Kitchener Community School Regina SK

Kitchener Community School Regina SK

At Rise Like Air we really like to highlight teachers and education programs that think outside the box, that get results and are fun! Recently we came across one such story.

Brian Lewis coordinates the G.Y.M. (Growing Young Movers) program for grade 2 to 5 students at Kitchener Community School in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He realizes the importance of keeping kids active and involved not only for their physical well being but to keep them occupied with positive outlets helping to decrease the likelihood of following a less productive path. Their website says “Through community partnerships the Growing Young Movers After School Club is a student-centered intergenerational urban aboriginal network focused on enhancing 21st century living skills through experiential wellness opportunities. ”

The program utilizes the skills and mentorship of high school students, like Cole Keepness, who have been involved in the program before. Lewis is well aware that while the gym can be a haven for many students, it can also be a place where other just don’t feel comfortable or like they fit in.

“A gymnasium or any movement centre can be a really positive place but it can also be a really negative place, it’s all in how it’s approached. We play a lot of things that are inclusive, everyone is involved.” – Brian Lewis

The goal of this program is to give all students an alternative, a safe place to play and to feel included regardless of their background, talent or skill level. There are even healthy snacks to keep their brains awake and energy levels high.  It’s working too. The program is popular and past participants often return as mentors just like Keepness.

“It keeps you busy, from getting involved in other things that wouldn’t benefit your life, drinking, doing drugs, hanging out with the wrong crowd.” Keepness grew up in the neighbourhood and now goes to high school at nearby Martin Collegiate. He said he likes working with the younger kids because they see him as a role model.

If the program continues to grow they may require a bigger space. Giving children options and alternatives. Developing compassionate, community focused teenagers.

Just another example of everyday people creating ripples that make waves of change.  Another Rise Like Air moment. Thank you to all the teachers, the volunteers and everyone else who chooses to use their valuable time and talents to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. It soon becomes apparent that the giver seems to get as much satisfaction as the receiver. Another life lesson to take to heart.

Source: Regina after-school program teaches more than movement – Saskatchewan – CBC News

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I wrote this post almost 2 years ago and in honour of World Teacher’s Day celebrated today, October 5th, 2015 , I thought I’d post it again. Thank you to all the teachers who help engage our children and set the stage for fun, learning and life lessons throughout their most formative years.

Originally posted on Rise Like Air:

Great Teachers

A story in the Regina Leader Post over the weekend caught my attention and I was glad I took the time to read it. 

It is so easy to complain about teachers, the education system. It’s always easy to lay blame and to seek out the problems.  When I hear a story about someone doing wonderful things and making a positive impact, making a difference in children’s and parents’ lives, I’m rising like air.  It puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

The story that resulted in the good feelings is about Michelle Dizy who is a pre-kindergarten teacher at Ecole St. Mary in Regina, SK Canada.  The icing on the cake is that she not only does wonderful things, she was recognized for doing wonderful things.  She was recently honoured by being named as a recipient of the prime minister’s award for excellence in…

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A few weeks ago my family spent a lovely weekend at the lake. Summer weekends were soon coming to an end but this one was perfect. Sunny skies, gentle warm breezes, calm waters and a boat waiting to take us wherever we pleased. Our only decision was would we eat at home or take a picnic. Our daughter ended any debate with a vocal PICNIC!

The crew (aka my husband and two lovely children) readied the boat and I readied the picnic. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a plain old last minute throw together picnic lunch – which really are my favourite kind anyway.

We launched the boat and as we pulled away, there was our dog on the dock, tail a wagging. He didn’t seem interested in swimming to join us so of course, it meant docking the boat again. We enjoyed the beauty of the day with hardly another soul about. After a while we cruised up to our favourite spot – no one in sight, the ruins of an old stone barn just off shore, fine sand beaches beckoning us. As we prepared to put onto shore I turned and reached for the picnic basket.

It wasn’t there. As we all proceeded to blame each other I held up my hands. “Look on the bright side, we can go get the basket.”  Off we went back across the lake to the boat launch where we were parked. No picnic basket.  It was back at our place, where everyone had walked right past it!

Hop back on boat and push off.  But “WAIT!” I yell.  “We have the dog,” they say. “I know.’ I call, “But the keys, the keys for the house are in the truck!”  Well, the bright side, we’re getting really good at docking our boat at a rather tricky dock! Not sure my husband was as thrilled with this though.  My son graciously got out, again, and retrieved the keys.

A short jaunt later and we docked at our own dock, son sprinted up the hill and yippee! The picnic basket was retrieved, dog was on board, keys were safely stowed. We enjoyed the second boat ride over to the other side just as much as the first. We had a lovely picnic lunch. We explored, we lost track of time.

Some days are just like that.

We could have seen the mishaps of the day as inconveniences, hiccups or problems, but that would have been a waste of time. We instead chose to enjoy the opportunity to view it as a good story, something to share a laugh about instead. I’m glad we were able to see that as a forethought instead of an after thought.

As with the waning of summer comes the return of academia.  Recently that meant an exciting field trip. The day started off well enough, other than it was very early! The kids had to be at school by 6:00 a.m. It went smoothly but I must admit I wasn’t quite awake yet while I waved merrily as they drove away. I was feeling pretty good though.  I had to be in the city and being up this early would make being on time a breeze!

As I was getting ready I heard the sound of a vehicle coming up the driveway. It hit me, I forgot to cancel the school bus! I wasn’t dressed yet so I threw on my coat and ran out to wave our driver on. Oh well, I’m sure she was after a scenic tour anyway.

Back to getting ready and then I hear a thud at our window and upon running out on the frosty grass I see a little junco. Very dazed, a little blood…. so as I always do, I brought the little bird in. Twenty minutes later he’s perking up so I get ready to take him out to release when…… I tilt the lid too far and it escapes – inside, not outside. Sigh…. did I mention I had to get to the city early?


Ok…. first order of business, find the cats – cause there were 2 snoozing in here. Out with one and I think the other one is out too. Sooooo off to catch the little flyer. Almost, not quite – twice it was almost but not quite. And then I see cat number 2 just as it catapults itself into the air and grabs the bird, who just manages to flutter out of it’s clutches. How many lives do birds have anyway?!


Out with cat number 2 (she’s miffed at me). I finally open the window and within a few tries out goes the bird… and it wasn’t even 8:30 a.m. yet.

Some days are just like that…

By now I was sweaty, but certainly wide awake. I left for the city, better late than never.  I was feeling a bit frustrated as I left until it struck me how funny it would have all looked to a spectator. I saved a bird, had a good laugh, certainly had quite a workout and in the end, while I wasn’t early, I wasn’t late either.

So I made it to the city. I realized I had forgotten about breakfast so decided to stop at McDonald’s for a breakfast sandwich. Because after all I’d been through I figured I deserved it, and heck, I was still running on time!

As a matter of fact I was feeling so good I decided to check an item off my bucket list – “Pay forward at a drive thru”.  I ordered and pulled forward, but there was no one behind me. And then I proceeded to wait, and wait, and wait. So much for staying on time.  So much for fast food.  Exasperated I looked in my rear view mirror.  There was a woman in a car behind me. For a split second I thought, “So what, this is just taking forever!” But in that same moment my exasperation started to turn to anticipation. The thought of being able to pay for the car behind me started to make me feel better. I wanted the line to move, but now it was motivated because I wanted to pay for the other car, not so much because I was bored or running late.

I started to wonder about the woman behind me.  Was she having a good day or a bad day? Was she early or running late? Was she happy or sad or mad? I wondered what she ordered and if anyone had ever paid for her meal like this. Then I wondered if she had paid for someone else’s and if today, she would keep the pay it forward chain going.

By the time I finally made it to the window I was smiling. I explained to the cashier what I wanted to do and she was dumbfounded. She said no one had ever done this at that restaurant before.  She called her boss over right away to tell him and find out exactly how to go about making it happen. I thanked her and she looked at me and said, “No, thank you! You just made my whole day. Thanks for putting a smile on my face.” As I picked up my order I asked the server to make sure she wished the car behind me a great day and I wished her the same. She was smiling too.  Best $5.64 I have ever spent.

I looked at my watch. I was late, but not late enough to cause any damage. As I navigated through traffic to my destination I reflected on the experience.

Some days are just like that, and that’s perfectly ok.

Everyday presents you with experiences and opportunities. How you choose to perceive them and what you choose to do with them is always up to you.

It’s all good so remember to see beautiful and you’ll rise like air.


©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I was listening to fellow Kindness Ambassadors Jeff Kuske and Erin Buchalter,  being interviewed on the Lillian McDermott Show the other day.  They were discussing kindness and Life Vest Inside, specifically the Kindness Boomerang video that has had over 80 million views world wide so far. That’s really the video that started it all.  Before that Orly had a dream and was taking steps to make that dream come true, but the release of The Kindness Boomerang served as the catalyst to make others really begin to take notice.  I was one of those “others”.

Like Jeff, Erin and Lillian, I watched the video when I first saw it, and then I watched it again. And then again. And of course, I shared it.

Since The Kindness Boomerang hit the internet, numerous big companies have run campaigns and put out poignant videos to celebrate and support their customers and sometimes even random people on the street.

WestJet gave Christmas a special touch for flyers:

Dove tackles the problem of poor self image

TDBank gives back to their customers

I love people helping people no matter who they are but I could never quite put my finger on why the big corporate deeds never gave me quite the same feeling that Life Vest Inside has. Listening to the interview today, it finally made sense to me.

When Orly Wahba left her job teaching in a school to found Life Vest Inside and began teaching the entire world about kindness she didn’t do it for any personal gain. She did it because she was profoundly moved to make a difference. What she offers to others isn’t about the “outside”, it’s about the “inside”. What she takes away isn’t “outside” glory and riches, it’s all about what she gets “inside”.

Orly had and still has a pure vision and a pure desire to show kindness, to give kindness, to be kindness and yes, to change the “inside” of each of us who makes this world. It wasn’t about what she could get out of it, it was about how she could help others. It wasn’t about getting more it was about giving more.

And that’s the difference to me.  The big corporations are trying to do good too, but they’ve already got the resources and they know that most of what they are doing, while helping others, also builds their business, their product and their client base. It feels a lot more like looking at the “outside”.

The company initiatives can provide really valuable and necessary help. I’m not against a “win win” situation. But I realize now that is what was different for me when I was introduced to Life Vest Inside. I never once felt anything was expected of me other than to be me, there were no hidden agendas, fees or surprises. There was a life vest of kindness, the belief that kindness can change the world and an open invitation to join the ride. The best part is those things are there every day 24/7, no matter the time zone.


Orly says of her childhood dream,

 I dreamt of creating a world the runs on the basis of kindness, love and respect; a world in which people will finally have the chance to see and catch a glimpse of their beauty, of their uniqueness; a world in which our differences were reasons to celebrate instead of war against one another. I must say that what I’ve had the chance to see through our Kindness Ambassadors and through LVI is a world just like that!

September 25th 2015 was World Dream Day. Orly Wahba and Life Vest Inside show just how big a little dream can get.

Watch the video that started it all, The Kindness Boomerang.

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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September 25th, 2015 is World Dream Day.  The organizers make it clear why we need a day to celebrate dreaming.

Every year, many countries around the world honor the ability to labor with labor holidays. On Friday, September 25th, the weekend before Labor Day in America, individuals, businesses communities and organizations from all over the world will celebrate the ability to turn thoughts into action by honoring a simple truth: before one labors, one must dream.

Source: Dream Day 2015 – About

A friend and fellow blogger Ernestine Van Der Greindt from Happy Minds alerted me to this wonderful day earlier this week. She asked us if we’d be willing to share our dreams with her since she was writing a blog about it and it got me thinking about dreaming and goals and success.  Click HERE to read her inspirational words.

If you ask people who have a successful business how it all started, you’ll often hear that they had a dream. ~ Ernestine

Think about it, before one labours, one must dream.   How true.  But so often, we hear, “get your feet back on the ground”, “get your head out of the clouds,” “well that’s just a pipe dream,” “oh, he’s just a dreamer.”  It’s like dreaming is considered at best unimportant and at worst a bad thing.

But when you think about it, dreaming is so important to life, to achieving goals, to making it through tough patches.  It opens up doors, opportunities and possibilities that you didn’t even notice were there before.

No, I’m quite certain that dreaming is actually a very, very, very good thing. So the next time someone tells you that, “you’re just a dreamer,” smile and say thank you.  It might just be one of the nicest compliments you receive.



So what’s your dream?  I’m sure you have one, even if right now it’s just a tiny one.  Make it grow, share your dream today using the hashtag #WorldDreamDay.  It might just be the start of making that little dream of yours come true. Risk it. I dare you.


©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Debbie Hyde from the radio show It’s All Good is taking a stand and committing to a philosophy that is capable of changing the world. Are you ready to join her?

To be disconnected from nature which supports us or to practice deep care for the Earth.

Read Debbie’s blog by clicking on the link below.

Source: First Do No Harm

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Sometimes the best teachers are our children.  This is one of those times.

Source: Watch This 6 Year-old Girl Give Her Mum a Life-Lesson After Her Parents Divorced

We’ve all had bad things happen to us. We’ve faced challenges, been dealt hands we’d rather not play. But it’s play what you’ve got or play nothing at all. There’s really no sitting out.  It’s game on. What’s your next move? That depends on the player.

Some people choose to sit back and complain, maybe loudly, maybe quietly but the first card of the game is played, the Victim card.  “Woe is me. What did I do to deserve this?  I’m a good person!”

This determines the second card often chosen, the Blame card. “It’s not my fault!  If that hadn’t happened…  If she would have… But no one told me…”

The final card is thrown down with vigour. The Despair card. “There’s nothing I can do!  I’m too insignificant, I’m the victim after all!  Won’t someone else fix this?”

It’s understandable. Tough challenges, disappointments, well, they just aren’t fair, or fun.


So while the reaction is understandable it doesn’t affect much benefit. Instead there’s more wallowing in self pity and sorrow. Still not experiencing much fun. Nothing gets better.

But then there is another kind of player. These players get knocked down, but they get up again.  Even if that means getting back up many times.

I Get Knocked Down Again by Chumbawumba

Their approach to the game is different. The first card they prefer to play is the Patience card. They get their bearings, see what they’re really up against, size up the situation.

The second card they select is Determination.  Strategies are considered and they proceed to carry out the plan adjusting as required along the way.

Weeble’s commercial circa 1970s

Their third and final card, played without fanfare, is Resilience. They turn into Weebles® if you remember the toy from the 1970’s. Their slogan was  “Weebles wobble but they don’t  fall down.”  Resilience means they keep at it and are set up to handle whatever their opponent has planned. They do what they need to to meet the challenge, to succeed.  They may wobble a bit but they won’t fall down, not now. They play the hand they’re dealt and more often than not they come out ahead. If they don’t, they adjust again.

I recently came across a young father who is busy playing the hand he and his family have been dealt with a smile. It’s a hand many of us may think about folding on but not Darren. Our first encounter was nothing really special. We are both members of Life Vest Inside and I saw a request come through from Darren that said his son was turning 10. If anyone was interested he’d appreciate some happy birthday wishes.  It seemed an easy way to spread a little kindness and cheer so I popped off a message.  His subsequent post of appreciation put his original request into context.

As it turns out Jayden has been faced with challenges since he was born with the heart condition Truncus Arteriosus, the same condition that killed his Aunt Karena, Darren’s younger sister, when she was only 17 weeks. Almost 20 years later medical advances in surgery allowed her nephew to survive, but it’s not an easy journey.

Jayden remained in hospital ICU for three and a half years, his mother seldom leaving his side for more than a few moments in all that time. He lives with global development delay and a high level of autism. Jayden has already endured 2 heart surgeries and will soon be undergoing his third. He has a tracheostomy to aid in breathing properly and since Jayden doesn’t have a very strong immune system once a month he spends a day in hospital for an immune booster.

Jayden’s conditions create a risk of choking meaning he must have an attendant 24/7.  Darren and Rhonda share the exhausting job of watching him around the clock. But all you have to do is listen to Darren talk about their son to know what a positive influence he has on his parents and others. Darren calls him a hero, super man, a survivor. With love and compassion and lots of time and dedication he proved sceptics wrong by learning to walk, he goes to school and he’s gaining skills. He is overcoming anxiety about eating from a spoon and he’s mastering his colours.  He has lots of challenges but he has a loving family to help him meet them.  That doesn’t make him less, maybe it actually makes him even more.

Jayden and Darren used with permission

Jayden and Darren
used with permission

“When my son wakes up in the morning and he smiles at me, that’s my payment.” Darren Kontista

Jayden eating

Darren knows first hand the struggles that Jayden faces. He himself was born with a heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot and nearly died as a child.  Like his sister and his son, Darren required the assistance of a heart and lung bypass machine and has also endured two heart surgeries. He is expecting to undergo a third operation within six short years.

As I read Darren’s post about his sister and his son Jayden’s story I was left speechless. When I wrote my birthday greeting never in my wildest imaginings did I think that this family was going through so much every single day.

Darren and Rhonda could certainly choose to focus only on themselves, their challenges and no one would blame them. They could play the blame card, the victim card and the despair card without question. But that’s not what they’ve chosen to do. Instead Darren has undertaken a serious fund raising  campaign to procure a heart and lung machine for The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. The cost of the machine is $500,000. Darren and Jayden have set their sights on contributing $5,000. towards that. Checkout their fundraising page through Hearts for Life HERE.

They didn’t stop at a simple page though. Darren has a love of music and a talent to create it. He came upon the idea to have a fundraising event! November 1st a musical charity fundraiser Jayden’s Hearts for Life will take place. This family knows first hand just how important this life saving machine is.


Recently Darren and his family moved to a new home. They were so happy to be settling in but for reasons out of their control they may be forced to pull up stakes once more before they’ve even had time to settle in and catch their breath. Something most of us would be angered by and this family is no different, especially given the extra challenges they face. Jayden doesn’t find change all that easy, being 24/7 caregivers takes planning, preparation and is exhausting without throwing in a full blown relocation again. But Darren puts it in perspective. At least some things are already packed! Or well, still packed.  And though they are tired Darren joked it was good his last surgery went so well and he feels strong like an ox. Looking on the bright side, even if the light is rather dim. That’s how these players play the game.

When I heard the news I felt tired and frustrated for them but my advice reflected Darren’s already positive attitude. Sometimes when you think you’ve arrived you discover it’s only a pit stop on the way to your true and even better destination. Deep breath, do a little dance, sing a little song and get ready to move on – to something fantastic, even if the road is a bit bumpy. Glad you’re looking on the bright side. “

When I thought about it I realized that it’s all the trials and tribulations, the challenges and pain that they’ve already experienced that are probably making them strong enough to face yet again, another unexpected and daunting challenge.

And that’s what this family is doing. Instead of wallowing in frustration and disappointment they’re playing their best cards. They are patient, determined and resilient.

And they’re already showing how that pays off.  Ticket sales for the upcoming fundraiser are selling well even before the the official advertising campaign kicked off.  If you want to show your support in some way click HERE! There are a lot of people who would really appreciate it.

Even though life can deal you a tough hand, Darren knows how to be grateful and see beautiful no matter how elusive it might seem.  He recently showed how well Jayden is doing at school and as a parent I know exactly how that thrill of success and pride feels.

Jayden learning at school

Kindness and gratitude help make the world a better place in my opinion, and Darren agrees.  Although generous himself in many ways he has been “blown away” by the support he’s received from their friends, whether it be financially, a helping hand or a listening ear.

Darren, Rhonda and Jayden exemplify  how to play the game of life everyday, with patience, determination, and resilience. Be kind, be grateful and you really can’t lose. With their dedication and determination we are certain they will have great success in helping so many people whose health and life will be greatly improved with the new heart and lung bypass machine.  Please show your support if you can.   A kind message, sharing their story, or if you are so inclined a financial contribution. All forms of support are appreciated.


In memory of Karena

To hear more about Darren’s life and background in 8 minutes watch this video:

To see Life Vest Inside’s inspirational kindness video that started it all watch The Kindness Boomerang:

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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“There is someone at the other end of this post rooting for you.”

Originally posted on quirrk:

So yeah, I’m one of those people on your facebook.


You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones who post too much, who share too much, who talk too much about the same things over and over again till you want to just ram their heads into a wall and yell “I GET IT!”

I’m guessing many on my friends list have unfollowed me. It’s okay.

I have a theory about social media so hear me out, cause really, you’re on my blog so what else could you do?

When our homepages flood each day, each hour, each minute with information posted by hundreds and thousands of our friends and acquaintances, their presence online becomes nothing but a post we scroll by among a ton of others. So what becomes of that little box at the top left corner of the post, that (mostly) smiling face with eyes darting…

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picture from

I firmly believe kindness makes the biggest difference in people’s lives. As a child I was terrified to go to school and didn’t hit my stride until well into high school. That was a lot of years of dread, nausea, anxiety and not having fun. What made the days bearable were the few kind people I met, whether they be students, teachers or parents.

As I’ve grown up over the years I’ve come to realize that kindness is the most basic thing we can offer, and it usually has the biggest reward for both the giver and receiver. It’s not about big actions, or offering sums of money.  It’s the everyday simple things. It’s as simple as a smile, a hello or maybe a high five.

At one school, Mr. T was simply kind to a student who wasn’t even in his class.  The ripple a daily smile and high five made was amazing. Thanks for the life lesson Mr. T.  You’re our kind of teacher.  Yet another Rise Like Air moment to be grateful for.

Read more about the story below by clicking on the link. Short and oh so sweet for a Monday morning pick me up.


The best acts of kindness are when someone doesn’t even know they’re doing something that affects someone’s life. They’re just doing it because. My son had no previous interactions with this teacher, but for whatever reason, he was comfortable with him when he almost always has a hard time interacting with people he doesn’t know well.

Always take the time to smile or give a high-five. You very well could be the one to help put a little swag in someone else’s step. Thank you Mr. T for unknowingly giving my son something to look forward to each day.

Source: Boy With Autism Had Trouble In School Until This Happened


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