Heart-Mind Newsletter: Interview With Recipient of Prime Minister's Award, New Intergenerational Resource, New DLC Board Member + Upcoming Workshops

Interview with BC Recipient: Maria Cortese

"Maria has a genuine and heartfelt desire to grant each child she teaches the opportunity to imagine, build, wonder, collaborate, innovate and thus grow in their own right." Award Nominator

Maria Cortese, an early childhood educator based in Vancouver BC, was recently awarded the The Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education. Recipients are honoured for their leadership, exemplary early childhood education practices, and their commitment to helping build the foundation children need to have the best possible start in life.

We were delighted to spend some time with Maria recently, learning about the award and how she nurtures her students’ well-being.

In January, Maria was nominated by a group of parents for the award and was overwhelmed when she received a call  from the office of the Prime Minister with the good news.  She was flown to Ottawa in May to attend a ceremony with Justin Trudeau.  Along with the other recipients, Maria was asked to present her ideas on the topic of best practices in education. She chose to speak about her student’s relationship with an older gentleman neighbour who is in his 90s, known to them as Farmer Jim. She showed a short video about the lovely connection that has grown between the children in her junior kindergarten class and Jim.

Jim lived near their school and what started out as gardening adventure with the class, using his front yard to learn to garden, blossomed into a beautiful friendship, that was gently encouraged and supported by Maria. When Maria showed the video the audience was overwhelmed with emotion. After the ceremony Ottawa’s School Superintendent approached Maria and said “I don’t know if you realize this story needs to be shared. You need to tell people because you have to inspire other educators.”

Maria: “I was trying to teach them about friendship and compassion and I was trying to teach them about helpfulness but on a broader spectrum- you help someone who is older, you help someone who is younger, you help someone who is the same age, in general you help.... It’s a great thing to show kindness, that’s what I want them to take away from this experience ...also my students needed to get out in the community, they needed to connect with people, they were lacking in something and that’s where this whole Jim thing started. The intergenerational relational piece was missing for them.”

This story about the children’s friendship with Farmer Jim has touched many of those who have come across it and when film and media students at Burnaby North Senior Secondary School heard about the friendship they were inspired to produce a short film about them. To see this wonderful video and learn more about how you can help encourage connection between children and older citizens check out our new resource on Heart-Mind Online: Five Ideas for Building Intergenerational Relationships.

Maria Cortese and Farmer Jim (AKA Jim Foort)

 Five Ideas For Building Intergenerational Relationships

This new Heart-Mind Online resource was inspired by Maria Cortese's work (featured in the interview above).  Maria was awarded a Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education in recognition of her role in  in focusing attention, in her junior kindergarten class, on educating the whole child. From her class projects with an elderly gentleman Jim, to bringing in her dog to help children learn empathy and responsibility, Maria was recognized for her special ability to help each student build positive relationships with themselves and the world around them.

Her teaching philosophy is simple, yet profound. “I really feel in today’s world I want children to be kind and to build strong relationships. Those are the two things that I feel are the foundation of everything".

There’s plenty we can learn from Maria, especially when thinking about how we can facilitate intergenerational relationships for the children in our own lives. After all, innumerable studies show the benefits of facilitating positive relationships between children and older adults. Children who build positive relationships with older adults are not only more likely to have positive attitudes about older adults but intergenerational relationships allow all generations involved to act as learners and teachers at the same time. 

Check out this great
new resource to learn more about ways you can support children in building intergenerational relationships and also to view the wonderful video featuring Jim and the children in Maria's class.


We are delighted to announce that Dr. Scott Sampson has joined our board of trustees. He currently serves as President and CEO of Science World British Columbia in Vancouver, where much of his work focuses on rethinking and catalyzing the kind of education we need for the 21st Century.

He has published numerous scientific and popular articles and authored multiple books, including 
Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life, and How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature. He is perhaps best known as “Dr. Scott,” host and science advisor of the Emmy-nominated PBS KIDS television series Dinosaur Train, produced by the Jim Henson Company.

Scott was born and raised in Vancouver, BC and lives in West Vancouver with his wife Toni and his daughter Jade.


This month we have two upcoming Heart-Mind Well-Being workshops!

The first is our signature workshop: Heart-Mind Well-Being on Sept. 19th, 2018. We share current research, best practices and practical strategies related to the promotion of social and emotional development in children, youth and adults. If you have not attended one of our workshops before, this is the perfect one to start with. 

The second workshop: Heart-Mind Well-Being: Parent and Caregiver Workshop is on Sept. 27th, 2018 and is specifically for parents and caregivers. By exploring the latest research in social emotional development, self care strategies that include mindfulness and breathing activities, and one's own personal experience as a parent or caregiver, participants will be supported in identifying ways to enhance their own Heart-Mind well-being and that of the children in their lives.    


Heart-Mind Well-Being Workshop
Sept. 19th,  2018   10am - 1pm

Heart-Mind Well-Being: Parent and Caregiver Workshop
Sept. 27th,  2018   6:30pm- 8:30pm


The Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education
Floor 9, The Boardroom
1500 West Georgia St.
Vancouver, BC V6G 2Z6

Kitsilano Neighbourhood House
Vancity Room
2305 W 7th Ave
Vancouver, BC V6K 1Y4
Register Now: Sept 19th Workshop
Register Now: Sept 27th Workshop
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