Students from Academy of the Canyons played a “Game of Life” at College of the Canyons’ University Center on Friday, which gave students real-life scenarios and prompted them to reach out to community services for help.
The scenarios ranged from more light-hearted ones such as learning how to balance finances or financial aid for college to more serious scenarios such as having a friend who was sexually assaulted and needs mental health resources, or one who needs fentanyl addiction resources.
Several community resources had tables set up for the students to go to in these scenarios. Resources included PFLAG, Child and Family Center, Help Hope Change, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station J-Team.
“As a project-based learning school, it’s really important that we bring the real world into the classroom and that we break down the walls around us so that we’re not just studying academics in isolation, we’re actually going out into the real world and applying what we’ve learned in the classroom to the real world,” said Juliet Fine, principal of Academy of the Canyons.
Fine said the activity was also part of the students’ senior capstone project, in which they have to learn how to help not only themselves, but others. Danica Lynch, wellness coordinator for the event, said while resources can be provided to them while they’re at school, they need to learn where to go when they are at home.
“The purpose is that when they’re here with us, we can provide resources for them, but when they go home, where do they go? If they’re in a crisis or they just need future planning,” said Lynch.
Lynch said she tried to tackle any situation that could be out there, whether it be addiction, food insecurity or needed shelter — among a large number of other scenarios.
“It’s not just for them, I’m also targeting their families,” said Lynch. “That’s why a lot of these vendors are here today, because it might not be them individually that are going through it, but their families might be.”
Academy of the Canyons senior Ark Hrynkow did get some real-life lessons out of the activity although he was dismayed when told by one resource to go to another.
“It’s a little bit of a mixed bag,” said Hrynkow. “So I think that some of the places, they have really good information and that they’re obviously really set up and they have they have a lot of information about their resources, and they share the resources. And those some places here… they sort of just told us to go somewhere else, or they would show us where else to go. And it’s like, that’s sort of useless considering the whole idea of this.”
Jason Wilhelm, social and emotional learning teacher at Academy of the Canyons, said all feedback, both critical and not, is welcomed and that what Hrynkow and other students experienced are things students might face in real life, and may need to overcome.
Wilhelm said these types of activities can also help students from different socioeconomic backgrounds experience what it’s like to seek out resources.
“We wanted to really like hyper-target or hyper-specialize if some students need it, we know we have a large percentage LGBTQ, we know we have a decent percentage of people who might be at a socioeconomic disadvantage, small number of first-generation college students, you know, so a little bit for everybody here,” said Wilhelm. “This is about just gaining information for the most part. [Also], how to network with people, how to seek support, and then being aware that these resources are available to them, if ever they need, or if ever anybody they know, needs them.”