About Deanna

Inspirational and Motivational Speaker, Peer Mentor Program Author & Co-ordinator

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Dr. Deanna Behnke-Cook earned her Ph.D from McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario where she focussed on youth risk behaviours, such as premature sexual involvement, substance use/misuse and early school leaving, and how schools, communities, and families have an impact on the choices that youth make. She also completed a Post Doctoral Fellowship with the Faculty of Medicine, McMaster University, Population Health Research Institute, where she studied how poverty affects health outcomes for youth and their families. Her passion for supporting the young people she has the pleasure of working with allows for the amazing opportunity to turn academics into action!

Deanna is a dedicated and engaging educator, having taught at the post secondary level for over 20 years. She is also the author and coordinator of peer mentor school-based youth risk behaviour interventions which places her, at the same time, in elementary and secondary schools, and permits her the unique vantage point of watching young people grow from their pre-teen years through their adolescence and into early adulthood. 

Her passion is to inspire young people to reach forward and develop resiliency so that they can enjoy their educational opportunities, friendships, and life experiences along the way (both their challenges and successes!) and that they embrace all that they are and live their true and authentic lives. 

Her motto, "Today is a new day", is a testimony to her optimism that no matter what happened yesterday, we each have a new opportunity to begin again..."

Given her wide range of experiences with students at the elementary, secondary and post secondary levels, she is committed to supporting young people so that they are capable of, and prepared to make wise choices about their behaviours related to risk taking, substance use/misuse, academic engagement, and personal relationships. Deanna recognizes that while many students are ready for new beginnings, there are still so many who are ill prepared for the new challenges that come with transitioning from one school community to another, and in some cases, make decisions that hinder rather than help their progress. Deanna's expertise lies in assisting parents, teachers, school communities and young people themselves to develop their own skills (we cannot do it for them!) so that they continue to grow their resiliency and enjoy positive outcomes.


Topic Areas & Programs 

Are you Ready for Post-Secondary? Everything you need to know from a University Professor

During this dynamic and interactive session Deanna will answer questions about real issues facing young people in post secondary school. Participants will experience a “live” university course, discover first hand about workloads, methods of assessment, and about the services and supports in place for students should they face challenges once they arrive at college or university.

Parents will be provided with effective strategies they can immediately put in place to help support the development of resiliency and life skills in their young people.

Educators will be provided with recommendations that lay bare the specific skills young people should develop BEFORE they graduate from high school. 

Students will be provided with a detailed overview of what to expect as they transition to college/university. “What I Wished I Knew Before I Got Here” highlights how to get the most out of the college or university experience!

This topic has become increasingly significant given our awareness of the importance of supporting the mental health and wellness of our young people. Administrators, teachers, parents and students all benefit from participating.


Raising Resilient Young People! Resilience is not a trait, it's a skill!

Sometimes we mistakenly believe that resilience is a character trait, and that only some of us have it. This is not the case!

Resiliency is a key component of mental health and wellness, and is a skill that everyone can further develop. This illuminating and helpful talk details what resiliency is, why it matters, and provides a set of effective and easy-to-implement  strategies for parents, educators and students so that young people learn how to help themselves

The effects of Social Media and how to use it

Social media has changed the ways in which we communicate with one another. Not just for young people, but for virtually all of us. This exciting and interactive session acknowledges the challenges and concerns related to young people engaging with one another on–line, yet its focus is to provide participants with information about the power of social media, and how to skilfully and appropriately navigate the digital life. Social media is not going anywhere, and this powerful session lays out how to use it to ones benefit, not detriment!   

Parents will be provided with tips and strategies to help their young people set appropriate boundaries, and effectively navigate the digital world.

Students will benefit by learning more about the opportunities presented by social media use and the impact it has on their futures in both their personal and academic/professional lives.


Not just Surviving, but THRIVING!  Transitioning from Elementary to Secondary School, and Secondary to post-secondary school

What does it mean to THRIVE in school? It means more than just doing well academically, that's for certain (although that is important too!)  These transitions from elementary to secondary school, and secondary to post secondary school bring so many challenges and changes, but also bring exciting opportunities as well!  There are many experiences to be had, skills to be developed, and opportunities for personal, well as academic growth and achievement. 

These talks focus on how we can encourage our young people to THRIVE during these years. Parents will discover ways in which they can further assist the development of life skills in their young people, and students will learn more about how they can truly engage in the experiences so they can enjoy amazingly successful school careers.....and all that lies ahead!

the ideas program: a Peer mentor youth risk behaviour intervention

The IDEAs Program, Informed Decisions Empowering Adolescents, is dynamic, evidence-informed peer mentor program that encourages young people to avoid becoming involved in risk behaviours that could lead to early school leaving, involvement with substance use/misuse, and in prematurely intimate relationships. Specially selected, trained and supervised Peer Mentors encourage their younger peers to make wise choices that will enhance their life chances, and provide strategies to assist their successful navigation of the teenage years. Topics include how to be successful inside and outside of the classroom, the use and impact of Social Media, and how to make wise choices about relationships. 


And many more!  Do you have a topic area in mind? 

Please contact us for more information!

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