Sam Holmes

Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes

Final Reflection

“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.

Thank you.

The End

Unfortunately, this will be my last official blog because our final one will be known as our “Final Reflection” so here’s my farewell. It’s a bittersweet last month at Propel with copious amounts of stress trying to finalize our projects and feelings of sadness that it’s all coming to an end so quickly. We’ve been doing a lot of exciting things this past little while trying to go out and enjoy the nice weather we’ve been having.

Recently, I’ve created a survey for high school students from outside of the LRSD school division in grades 9-11 to complete. This will be my last sample of data I’ll be using for my project and then I can begin making my final presentation.

We’re meeting for the last time with our “Mini Propellers” from Samuel Burland on May 31st to help them practice their presentations. This week, I’m volunteering for Centrallia, Special Olympics and The Teddy Bears Picnic. Also, we had a living library and an outdoor field day with Nelson McIntyre. It’s amazing how many opportunities we’ve gotten in Propel and from attending Nelson McIntyre.

Thank you for anyone who’s been reading my blogs and I hope you come out to our open houses on the 14th and 15th of June! I will be presenting the first night at 6:45pm.


Moving Forward

Since we’ve only been writing blogs every two weeks there has been a lot of exciting stuff going on that I’d like to tell you about. We’ve met with Samuel Burland students, gone to the Career Symposium, volunteered at the Indoor Special Olympics and had our Toastmasters graduation. Also you might know from reading Haley’s blog that she was in Germany and is now home which is exciting because I missed her very much.

I wanted to talk a little about my experience being taught by Toastmasters practitioners for six week. The reason I wanted to touch on this is because things like public speaking often get overlooked in the school system. When we first started off with this program there were visibly a lot of nerves, I know for me there was. I am someone who is very outgoing but when it comes to doing oral presentations I would rather be doing anything else. I talk too fast and get the shakes. Now I can honestly say that many of those nerves have gone away. I was the MC for our graduation and didn’t feel nervous at all.

 Furthermore, I have been trying to write a survey for our Samuel Burland students to fill out. When talking about a sensitive topic such as mental health I have to be very careful with the wording that I use. I also have to get it approved by the administrators of Samuel Burland School and possibly send a permission letter home for parents to sign. Unfortunately, this is a huge roadblock for me right now because I should theoretically have all my data and research done by this point.

 My final project is essentially the presentation itself so I am going to start putting that together as soon as possible and work on that throughout the month of May and hopefully be done by June. Not only will my final project be a presentation, I will be handing out brochures/pamphlets to give a more in depth explanation of the resources available in the city as well as self-help strategies. The next step is to figure out the template I want to use, what I want the content to be and where I want to print them.


Open House Speech

I was asked to present at the Propel open house where grade 10 students and their parents are invited to come and hear about this inovative program. In my presentation I spoke about my experiences throughout Propel.

“Hello everyone, thank you all for coming out tonight. As you know I’m one of the students currently in Propel and I’d like to tell you a little bit about my experience thus far.

In the first couple months at Propel there was a lot of scaffolding, meaning we had to complete some of the necessary writing assignments as well as learn some 21st century skills. When doing the writing assignments we’ve focused a lot on doing some peer editing before handing work in for marks. This helps us get into the habit of looking over our work as well as working as a community to achieve a common goal. Some of the 21st century skills have been developed through tackling inquiry questions, volunteer experiences and some events that we’ve gone to. These include participating in Tiger’s Den, going to museums and upcoming volunteering opportunities such as Centrallia, The Career Symposium, the Special Olympics and many others.

In my opinion, the coolest opportunity we’ve gotten thus far at Propel would be our learning partnership with grades 5 and 6 students from Samuel Burland School. There, we’ve each been paired up with two students that we have common interests with, getting to act as mentors for them. They’re doing a personalized class project on what makes them unique.

I think that’s one of the amazing things about Propel is that all of us get to create a project on something we are very passionate about and that is unique to us.

For my project, I’ve chosen to be an activist for mental health specifically in youth. When I first came to Propel I had my heart set on doing something related to biology or psychology. Though when asked the question “What problem can you solve with your project?”. It got me thinking about the biggest needs of youth in Canada today and there was a recurring concern for their mental health. This has always been something I’ve been extremely passionate about and had never gotten the opportunity to make a difference… until now in propel.

I really enjoy this program because we get the opportunity to have sole (a student organized learning environment) while still meeting and in some cases exceeding the grade 11 requirements. It has been an honour for me to be part of such an innovative program. I’ll be leaving with an unforgettable experience, amazing life skills and great friendships. I really don’t want it to end. I hope that you have a little bit of an idea on what the program has to offer and if you have any questions please feel free to ask myself or any of the other students here tonight. Thank you.”

That’s my speech for anyone who didn’t get the chance to be at the open house!

Back From The Holidays

This week I have a meeting with Irene Merie the National Chairperson for the Canadian Mental Health Association who is also the acting CEO. I hope this meeting will give me some ideas for the main focus of my project. She has a lot of connections in terms of programs or sites that will lead me to more information. I’m extremely eager to meet with her it is an amazing opportunity.

Another great opportunity Propel has as a class is getting mentored on public speaking by two lovely people who have toastmasters training. I personally think that I will benefit greatly from this program because I’d love to work on my presentation skills. On top of that, our final projects have to be done in an oral presentation format in June so this program will help us to prepare for that.

Over Spring Break, I decided to use some of the skills I learned while painting the classroom and paint my room! I did this by myself and it somehow didn’t end up being a disaster.

Additionally, I hope to complete writing my survey for youth this week as well as a large portion of the research and data collecting.


Tigers Den

Propel got the opportunity to participate in an event call Tiger’s Den. For the day we were put in a group of lrsd students who all have great innovative ideas for a product or service that solves a problem. Unfortunately we did have to pick only one of these ideas to work on for the day trying to “bring it to market”. We were faced with many different issues that we had to try and overcome. Throughout the day we had to work collaboratively as a team as well as get great advice from expert mentors who helped guide us in the right direction. At the end of the day we had to present to the “Tigers” (judges).
I’ve scheduled some meetings with experts on mental health specifically in youth. I’m very excited to start interviewing and collecting data for my project. Over spring break i will be doing more research and planning for the upcoming months in propel.

Getting the Resources

Over the week the class has read a couple very insightful articles. For example we read one of the articles that was in the paper about a young indigenous girl named Brianna. She expressed her concerns regarding how many resources she would receive if she were to go missing. As well as a response to her article by Cooper Nemeth’s father. The article was discussed afterwards with the whole class. Many very insightful points were made.

We had a MADD (mothers against drunk driving) presentation that was very emotional and brought a lot of awareness to the whole school about the effects of driving under the influence. We also got the chance to go to the WAG (Winnipeg Art Gallery) and got the chance to explore the art in Greek mythology which was a great experience. When we were there we got to made little pots out of pottery.

Propel is taking part in a learning partnership with grade 5 and 6 students from Samuel Burland School. We have to write mini bio’s so we can get matched up with students with the same interests.

The past week I’ve mostly been doing research on the different struggles youth face on a daily basis and finding out which issues should be in the fore front of my project. I’ve also been looking at the resources I can use for my project such as MATC, Mental Health Education Resource Centre, Canadian Mental Health Association and many others. I’d like to get the DSM-5 book or possibly go to the Diagnostic Services Manitoba building for more information on how certain mental illnesses are diagnosed. I have to acquire all the necessary knowledge and data before diving deeper into my own research and data collecting.

To whomever is reading this that has any resources, connections, or even any suggestions I’d be very appreciative. My e-mail is Thank you.

Starting Projects

In class we have begun designating more time towards project work. This means that we haven’t been doing as many inquiry questions and career development, though I’m sure we will be returning to that shortly. Nevertheless, we did go to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on Monday. I’ve been to the museum before but as you may know the museum has eighty hours of content, so for the second time I didn’t even breach the surface of the amazing exhibits. We had the opportunity to go around in small groups exploring and taking pictures throughout the museum.

Furthermore, as a class we have done some finishing up on the décor of the classroom. There is a blackboard wall at the front of the class where each student gets the chance to put their personal stamp. In addition, some of the students have an amazing artistic talent and have gotten the chance to show some of it on the wall.

Recently, I’ve decided that I’d like to focus my project on being an activist for mental health. The reason behind this is, throughout my middle to high school years issues like anxiety have been brought up to me on multiple occasions and is quickly becoming one of the the biggest issue we face in schools today. My original plan was to study human interactions and the different aspects of the brain. When trying to create awareness about the Mental Health of adolescence, human behaviors and brain psychology play an important factor. I would like to create a survey for students to fill out online and will base some of my project on the data from this survey. I’d also like to interview some students one on one to hear personal stories and ask some in depth questions on their mental health and mental health in general. Many people whom I’ve spoken to about my project have been very excited because people are starting to realize some changes need to be made. I have many resources at my disposal with extremely intelligent professional’s that I would love to have the opportunity to speak with. I hope that my presentation will turn into something much larger than just my final project for Propel. I don’t yet know what I’d like my final outcome to be, though I hope to create a better understanding of the current mental health issues in youth as well as finding some solutions.

I’m a teen joining the force to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

The Beginning

Last week we went to Codebreakers on Osborne during this activity had to solve a series of problems by collecting clues and creatively finding ways to “break out” in one hour. This gave us the chance to work as a team and solve abstract problems. I think it was a great way to start off the first couple days at Propel and it was an opportunity you wouldn’t normally get in a public school environment. We also did a couple mini projects such as the “Whale Activity” where we had to solve an environmental issue in 45 minutes taking safety and humanity into account, the “Meter Stick Challenge” working together as a group to try and lower a meter stick to the ground with one finger (this is much harder than it sounds). We also watched an insightful TED talk on racism and people who are afraid to speak up and use their voice. In doing these projects and activities we had to divide and conquer as well as work together as a team using our 21st century skills ( Creativity, Critical Thinking, Character, Collaboration, Citizenship, and Community ). I look forward to going on more outings and doing many more projects in order to improve these vital skills.

My personal goals for this semester at Propel is to do research and expand my knowledge on Neuropsychology and the different aspects of the human brain. To do this I’d like to speak to as many professionals as possible, going to some research labs, as well as analyze actual human interactions, seeing how people react emotionally, physically and verbally under certain conditions and scenarios. I hope to explore the possible careers related to different branches of psychology and get a sense for which ones fit my personal strong suits and passions. All in all I have very high hopes for myself and my experience here at Propel.


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