The Sylvan Lake community is in mourning after the sudden death of a 12-year-old girl at Ecole Fox Run School.
Brooke-Lynn Longman was at a basketball practise for the school’s senior team, which her family said was a “triumph to match her sister’s legacy at Fox Run”, when she suffered a cardiac arrest.
Longman was hospitalized at the Mazenkowski Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, an extension of the Stollery in Edmonton, where she sadly died on Dec. 19.
Family, friends, students and staff from Sylvan Lake school’s attended the celebration of life held at the Sylvan Lake Family and Community Centre on Dec. 28.
Chinook’s Edge School Division’s Superintendent Kurt Sacher said the memorial service went a long way of helping many people cope with the loss.
“Grief is different for everyone, and everyone deals with it in their own way. I really think they did an excellent job of celebrating Brooke-Lynn, and I think that helps a lot of people,” Sacher said.
The school division is helping staff and students who have been affected by the tragic death of their friend, classmate and student.
Sacher says there are processes in place to help staff and students whenever something potentially traumatic happens, such as this instance.
“Something of this nature affects the teachers, students and administration, not just at Fox Run but at all our Sylvan Lake schools, and potentially even beyond that,” Sacher said.
In instances such as the untimely death of a student, Sacher says a team will come to the school to help.
“In this particular case we would have had five family-school resource workers… support from the RCMP Victim Services, they had an individual there that was onsite helping us with students who needed counselling and certainly for staff members that would need support,” said Sacher.
Karen Barber, the liaison superintendent for the area, has also been working with administrators during this time.
Sacher said he has also been going to the schools in Sylvan Lake to ensure all the support needed for those who are suffering from this loss are helped.
“There are always a lot of ongoing supports that are there for individuals, like we have a service called Homewood Health for all our staff members to call at any time, 24-hours a day if they need assistance from a counselling point of view,” Sacher said.
Because every person deals with grief in different way, it can be difficult to ascertain if help is needed.
Sacher says it can be difficult to seek help in these times because the staff or student isn’t sure what to do, or if they do need support.
“Anytime people are dealing with grief, it’s different for everyone. They can have different emotions that you don’t expect.
“You still rely on the individuals themselves to identify that they do need some support. It’s not always something you can see on the surface,” Sacher said, adding staff will do their best to recognize when someone needs support.
Sacher described Longman as an “amazing young lady” and her death was a “tremendous loss for the family and for the school division.”
The death of Longman has had a huge impact on the community, with so many attending her memorial service, it was standing room-only.
A young athlete, Longman participated in many different sports including cheer, dance, swimming and mountain climbing.
Her death inspired many Sylvan Lake teams to play a game in honour of the athlete taken too early.
Before Christmas, the West Central Tigers played their games with Longman in their thoughts. They used the hashtag #PlayForBrookie when talking about their games on social media.
Some players also wrote the hashtag on their hockey sticks.
“The Panthers will be writing #Play4Brookie on their sticks and taping them with purple tape, Brooke-Lynn’s favourite colour, to pay tribute to Brooke-Lynn throughout the game. Her #4 basketball jersey will also be on the Panthers bench,” The Hockey Central Panthers wrote on their Facebook Page.
Many people knew Longman’s favourite colour to be purple, but her mother said this year her favourite colour was actually Cyan.
While Longman was a talented up an coming athlete, she was also a kind and caring individual.
Her mother said her greatest accomplishment in her short life was her inclusivity.
“Her love was powerful and helped bring many people together,” Jamie Longman said in a Facebook message.
A GoFundMe fundraiser was created by a family member, to help the Longman’s in their time of grief. As of publishing the fundraiser has raised $42,751.
The Longman family says they are very grateful for the support they have received from the community in what is an extremely difficult time for any person to go through.
“Their love, prayers and thoughts were so greatly appreciated. We are blessed with the strength and compassion of our Sylvan Lake community,” said Jamie Longman.