Project Resiliency Helps Students ‘Get Back on Track’

January 17, 2023

A program that’s unique to the Langley School District aims to help students who are dealing with adversity get back into the classroom and on a clear path to a successful future.   

Project Resiliency is a three-day program run out of the District office, with students referred by school administrators, parents, counsellors, “and anybody who feels the need to plug in some additional support” for a particular student, said Dee Koruz, one of two intervention clinicians involved with the program, along with Cindy Pettit.  

Project Resiliency has been operating in the District for 16 years, Koruz said, but is often misunderstood as a form of discipline, or as an alternative to a suspension for a student. 

“A lot of times there’s been some miscommunication around It,” she explained. “But what it is, is an opportunity for students to come, take a break from the rest of the world – from school, home, community – and access three days of support with two clinicians to kind of explore what’s working for them – what’s their strengths, what are the things that they can celebrate, and what are the things that are getting in the way.”  

Students in the program may need support after encountering or coping with trauma, mental-health and academic challenges, relationship conflict, drug use or addiction, and grief and loss, among others.

One goal of the program, Pettit said, is to help students understand adversity and then identify it in their own lives. From there, they work towards eliminating or changing it, if possible, or if it’s not something they can change, they can learn healthy coping techniques.  

Each of the three sessions has a theme. The first is home and health, the second is relationships and the final day focuses on school and community. 

If those areas in any person’s life are mostly good, people will mostly do well, and thrive and achieve their potentials. But if there are stressors or adversities or challenges in those areas, people tend to struggle,” Pettit said. “One of the things we talk about a lot, and one of things the kids leave here with, is a list of their own personal healthy coping skills. So we talk about the difference between healthy coping and unhealthy coping, again with no judgement.” 

To make students comfortable in the space, Project Resiliency students work in small groups of between three and six students, and the room itself is designed to be welcoming and relaxed.  

“We structure the groups very strategically to make sure that the kids are a nice fit for each other,” Pettit said. “The room, we designed it to be youth friendly, to be comfortable. There’s snacks and tea and coffee, and there’s fidgets, and all kinds of things for them to kind of occupy themselves with.  

“I think the kids respond well to the space, and most people kind of come in there and breathe a sigh of relief, like they do feel safe in the space, so that’s cool.”  

One District administrator, Pettit added, refers it as “the Zen Room.”  

At the end of the three-day program, students will work with Koruz and Pettit to create a plan that Koruz called “a completion report.”  

“It’s in their words, their plan, their thoughts, it’s their ideas. The plan also identifies a supporting adult who they believe they feel connected to, hopefully at their school, and it can be passed on to them, and (the student) can be supported with whatever needs they feel they need at school and in the community,” Koruz said.  

Having a trusted adult that a student can lean on for support is critical.  

“Kids need adults in their corner and to have their back,” Pettit said.   

Seeing students leave the program with a plan, and an ability to see a positive future for themselves, is incredibly rewarding, both Koruz and Pettit agreed.   

“I love just the opportunity to be real and to help people’s lives be happier and better, and help them get more of what they want and less of what they don’t want, and to help them have an opportunity to envision a plan for the future and actually have hope that they can achieve those things,” Pettit said.  

“We get to help kids get back on track.” 

For more on the program, click here