Sixteen students part of the Make Good 'Project Mental Wellness' pilot program proudly unveiled their projects on December 13th at Mitford School.
The twelve-week journey had students come up with concepts on how to identify, improve, and support mental health needs on an individual basis, within the school setting, as well as within the overall community.
Co-Facilitators, Josh Clarke and Chad Fawcett with Make Good, and school CDA Ginger McManus worked with the students as they brainstormed ideas, trialed concepts and ultimately came up with a final design in which they showcased at the reveal.
Nancy Dutchik, Administrator of Mitford School says she was absolutely amazed at the students' growth throughout the process. "The biggest benefit I have seen is kids gaining confidence in themselves, understanding what mental wellness is, how to achieve it, and sharing that with others. I think more than anything than else, seeing that growth in kids is absolutely amazing."
Josh Clarke with Make Good says he was absolutely blown away by what the kids achieved through the 12 weeks. Learning to step back himself and allow the kids the freedom to create and express themselves in their own way was both challenging and incredibly inspirational. "These kids showed up every week and navigated through the ambiguity of the project. We never told them they were going to do this or this is what it's going to look like, it was really an exploratory journey for them. Although we navigated through some difficulties and challenges, I was really amazed at their resilience and grit that they had to keep working on the projects."
Tapping into how the students empathize with/for others as well as the benefit their concept could bring, is ultimately what led to their final designs. "They thought about how could this help someone else, what are someone else's needs, what does mental health look like for seniors, youth, and even the community, and how can we create something unique. The fact that they were able to tap into their empathy so easily and freely was really encouraging to me; I think it is a great example of how we can learn from youth in terms of how we innovate and how do we take on challenges in our society. We have this great resource, often an untapped resource, in youth; they have perspective and freedom in their creativity that often adults don't and so it was great to see how easily the ideas came to them."
From rough concepts to tangible designs, students created a podcast, school newspaper with a mental health section, mindfulness station, a redesign of the school's Reboot Room and a seniors game event for Bethany Care residents coined 'Excite Night', which provided elements of art for their walls and games.
Hoping the Make Good concept can continue on is something Clarke and Fawcett are hopeful for, and something Dutchik wholeheartedly supports. "I would like to see other schools join in and work with us, not only with Rocky View but also, as an example, the Francophone School or other schools in the community. I would really encourage other schools to reach out and to share this journey with us; maybe we could do a joint program where we take what we and our kids have learned and share with others."
Mitford School has really embraced the concept and importance of mental health wellness over the past few years, which is something Dutchik is incredibly proud of. "When kids can speak to the challenges that they have or challenges they see around them, it gives them a voice, and with that voice comes action. These kids are their own movers and shakers; they don't need us telling them what they need, they just need lots of support and help to do that."
Clarke will be presenting in front of the Rocky View School Board on January 10th and sharing a snapshot of the 12-week program both Make Good and Mitford School piloted. He hopes by sharing his experience that the Make Good concept can become a sustainable and accessible reality for other schools, the community at large, and down the road across the province and eventually spreading throughout the country.