“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy – I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”
–Art Williams. This quote is one that I’ve applied to many things in my life. Though at the beginning of Propel, nothing could’ve described what was about to happen any better.
Propel has pushed me to expect more of my self in all aspects. I made the decision that I was going to become an activist and demand some social change regarding the mental health of youth within our community. My goal is to bring as much awareness as I can to the current state and needs of youth mental health. Additionally, awareness isn’t enough; I plan to suggest as many solutions to these issues as I can. The way I’m going to do this is by going to schools and doing presentations in front of students and teachers. I believe teachers implementing some mental wellness in the classroom can make a large difference, especially at younger ages. Even having a presentation specifically for parents and family members that have a teen in their live suffering from mental illness. Awareness is the first step in change. Moreover, I am going to suggest more mental health outcomes for grades 9 to 12 in the Physical Education curriculum.
In the beginning, most of my time was allotted to researching and collecting data. Through this, I quickly became obsessed with Crash Course Psychology videos on Youtube. I found them extremely educational, engaging and interesting. So much so, that I began taking notes and writing reflections on each video to better retain what I had learnt. Watching all of these videos made me realize my obsession for psychology and the human mind. I learned a lot of material varying from the power of motivation, to memory, disorders, social influence, prejudice and many others.
Later, I got the opportunity to have multiple interviews with mental health professionals. One of which is the national chairperson and acting CEO for CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association). She gave me lots of information and resources to help further my project, such as resource centers in Winnipeg, a large booklet of facts and Canadian statistics and some contacts that would be good to get in touch with. The last month of Propel, I decided to do some data collection myself by creating a survey that I got a group of high school students outside of the school division to complete. The survey outlined some of the common mental health concerns to compare that data to the Canadian averages.
I’m very proud of my work so far this semester. Some of the successes I’ve had would be meeting with great mentors and getting help from the community. Fortunately, the survey that I wrote went really well. It gave me some very insightful feedback regarding the mental health of some high school students. The times where I get the opportunity to tell people about this amazing program and share my project with them is a very rewarding feeling. I’m honoured to be part of a new learning initiative in our school system. Another highlight of my project would be getting access to all the information I needed in such a short amount of time. Fortunately, I was able to get the data from the LRSD Tell Them From Me survey. Along with the CMHA research data.
Unfortunately, my project had to encounter roadblocks and sometimes even failures along the way in order for it to become a success. One of the issues I faced was the fact that a lot of the research on mental health is done ages 15 and up which made it hard for me to find data for children. I also would’ve liked to do a larger scale survey for ages 9-12, compensating for the fact that I couldn’t find as much data as I would’ve liked. It is very difficult to do a survey on this topic with younger ages because of privacy, sensitivity and language issues.
If I got the opportunity to continue my project I would love to write a book exposing the issues concerning mental health and providing youth with a wide range of strategies for themselves and for others. Also I would love to take my presentation that I’ve made to create awareness and present it to classrooms within the division or even a group of teachers.
It’s unbelievable looking back on this semester and how fast it has gone by, though it seems as if we’ve accomplished so much. As an individual I’ve grown substantially. I think the moment when I realized how much this program has impacted me would be during the open house at Nelson McIntyre Collegiate. There I did a speech on my experience in Propel. Normally, I would’ve been terrified to read aloud or even talk to any authority figure without feeling panicked. In this situation, I had to speak in front of 100+ people and I did so with minimal nerves. This was the point where I realized that I have become much more comfortable and confident when public speaking. I probably got this confidence through the Triple T presentations where we got to speak in front of the class on various topics that we got to choose from. Also we got taught by two Toastmasters practitioners and got to present about a wide variety of topics as well as doing some impromptu speaking. Hopefully all these skills will help me when doing my final presentation.
This program has given us the opportunity to be more involved in our community. Propel partnered up with Samuel Burland School were we got the chance to engage one on one with young students. They were doing a project on what makes them unique and we helped guide them along the way. Most of all I think we learned how to be patient and do things outside of ourselves for a while. In addition, we had many volunteer opportunities such as Centrallia, Special Olympics, Career Symposium and many others. Yes, we needed hours for our career development course but I know that after every experience it felt very rewarding to be a small piece in some great events. I also got the chance to do a lot of networking and will continue volunteering after Propel.
If Propel has taught me one thing, it’s that the things that are easy to do are never the ones people care about. It’s the times that you worked hard and persevered that will be the ones worth talking about. With every experience we’ve had at Propel we were presented with a challenge and that’s why our work here has made us grow so much as young professionals. My time here has made me discover my passion for psychology and the human brain. I would love to pursue a career in some type of psychology as well as get a PH. D. I will be forever grateful for this experience and the people I’ve met along the way.