YOU MATTER: A Mental Health and Well–being Symposium was held for 150 students from AMDSB schools in grades 7-12 on November 26th, 2019. School staff selected student participants who are currently – or would be part of-a Mental Health & Well-being School Team in the future. Students who worked with our Mental Health researchers in the 2018-19 school year told educators that they were not sure about the school or community supports to assist them with mental health challenges. This day was all about recognizing the supports and reminding students they matter!
Presenter Fahd Alhattab reminded students, “Life is full of the choices we make… they make all of the difference in my life and in the years to come. The choices we make matter. “ Sharing stories of growing up, Fahd reminded everyone that the power of a split second decision that can change a person’s life, and the importance of resiliency, and of feeling like we belong while making others feel like they belong!
Students then divided into 2 groups to hear presentations by Jack.org and to work with the Mental Health Team researchers from Queens and Western to showcase the work celebrating mental health and well-being in their schools. Jack.org reminded students they can recognize and help their peers who are struggling by connecting them to the various community organizations to support their mental health, including the AMDSB Mental Health Workers.
Mike Masse spoke of mindfulness – taking time to slow down and breathe after lunch and then it was school sharing and planning. Students worked in their school teams to determine how their voices will be heard in mental health and well-being activities in their schools, and how they will monitor impact.
Eco-Exeter was present to remind us of the need to make choices to protect our environment. Their goals: To decrease the use of single use plastics in Exeter and the surrounding areas, to involve the community in our initiatives, and to spread awareness and give back to our community. The planning did their best to reduce plastics, reuse paper and recycle throughout the day.
“It was an awesome day. The keynote speaker, Fahd Alhattab, kept students engaged, and his message was very relevant to the students who attended the event: even youth, like us, can make change. It was also great to see several Huron-Perth mental health groups in attendance and be able to learn more about the services they offer to our communities. At the event, I was able to learn of initiatives that were successful in other schools, and I hope to bring some of these ideas back and implement them at my school this year.” Emma Badley AMDSB Student Trustee.
Many thanks to AMDSB’s Mental Health Team and Communication Department, Rural Response and Tanner Steffler Foundation’s Trillium Grant, and to all of our community partners for being present to support students on this day