North of 60 actor Dakota House 'going miles' to help youth
‘It’s all about that connection:’ Television star says interactive workshop helps youth find voices
A young Dakota House played TeeVee Tenia— an angry, rebellious boy living in the fictional town of Lynx River, NWT — on the 1990s Canadian series North of 60.
House, now in his 40s, runs Going Miles, an interactive workshop dedicated to empowering youth by raising self-esteem and self-confidence, and helping them find their own voices through the arts, dance and comedy.
He said the inspiration to start Going Miles came in a flash.
"It was like thunder and lightning," House said. "I literally woke up, sat up in bed like I was wide awake. First the name came, 'Going Miles.' Then the acronym: Motivate. Inspire. Lead. Empower. Succeed."
House enlisted like-minded artists to contribute to his plan for the interactive workshops — Scott Ward, a hypnotist, hip-hop artist Pooky G and comedian Colin Bird.
The program's combination of music, comedy and martial arts allows kids to build self-confidence, even over the short span when the group visits Indigenous communities, House said.
"It's building up that self-esteem, it's building up that confidence, it's making them feel good," House said. "They've been able to speak, they've been able to deal with issues, they've be able to release."
From glued-to-the-wall to 'busting it up'
"Sometimes [the community] will say 'usually at a dance everyone is glued to the wall,' And when we come in [by the end] the kids are dancing ... you're going to see the kids dancing and busting it up," said House.
"Then when they're out there, the proof is in the pudding."
House's efforts don't end when the workshop finishes. He said it's important to forge bonds with those they've reached.
"When we're leaving the communities, and kids are running alongside the vehicle holding on to us with all they've got saying 'please don't go' my heart just breaks."
The facilitators stay in contact with them, so there's an extended connection and support system. They use Facebook to help counsel the kids after they've left the community.
"These kids need to know there's somebody to connect with. And at any time [they can] type a message, and have someone they've seen on TV get back to them."