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Unique youth initiative initiated by two Happy Valley-Goose Bay women

The area where the sharing circles will be held on the boardwalk.
The area where the sharing circles will be held on the boardwalk. - Contributed

HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L. — Albert Einstein once said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything.”

Deseray Rich and Lianna Rice of Happy Valley-Goose Bay have started a sharing circle for youth on the scenic Birch Island Boardwalk.

“We wanted to hold our sharing circle out on the land because when people are on the land they feel more comfortable,” Rich said. “It’s a natural environment and being outside relaxes people. That’s why people have pictures of flowers and nature in their homes. Because it’s so calming.”

Deseray Rich and Lianna Rice.
Deseray Rich and Lianna Rice.

Rich is 25. Rice is 24.

The gatherings are an opportunity for young people to get together to talk about whatever they’d like to discuss.

Those who would rather listen than talk are also welcome, Rice said. The sharing circle is non-judgemental, she explained, and is a safe place for youth to share their concerns and struggles.

“We went around the circle once, and everybody had an opportunity to talk about whatever they wanted to talk about. We went around the circle again for a chance for people to respond to each other and give each other a motivational message or a message of support,” Rice said of the initial gathering that took place on Thursday, July 5.

The youth also enjoyed a walk and a snack of sanamajuks (bread dough similar to toutons), jam and water.

While what’s discussed in the sharing circle is confidential and is not spoken about outside the circle, talking in general terms, Rice said youth in Happy Valley-Goose Bay face many issues that affect their mental health. There is a high suicide rate in the area, she said, and some youth struggle with addiction and substance abuse.

“There is no youth centre here and we are offering (the sharing circle) to older youth as well — youth like us who are in their 20’s,” Rich said.

The sharing circle welcomes people aged 15-30. However, those older or younger than that age group are also welcome to take part.

Both Rice and Rich have mental health first aid. Rice also has SafeTALK Suicide Alertness and Rich has Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).

While neither of the young women are counsellors and cannot provide any medical help, they are both young people who care about those in their community.

“We just want youth to know they are not alone. There are people in the community who are going through similar things as you are. They care about you and want to support you,” Rice said.

Rich added, “I want to the community to know that, yes, we have a lack of resources here but we shouldn’t always depend on the government for funding. Doing things (like having a sharing circle) is a resource for mental health, too.”

The next sharing circle was to be held Tuesday, July 10 at 6 p.m. For more information contact Deseray Nancy Rich or Lianna Rice on Facebook or text or call 709-897-5811.

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