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May: Student Voices Webinar Recap

The month of May had a couple of amazing guests speak at the Student Voice Webinar for the month. The theme for this month was, “Love Yourself and Be You,” which was a special one, focusing on caring for yourself and accepting who you are while encouraging others to embrace themselves. This was the first webinar that was filmed and posted online. Our guests were Christine W. and Ann Marie Elpa.

 

Christine is in her first year in the social work program at MacEwan University. Christine struggled with her mental health since she was young. She struggled within a school setting and was finally diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and ADHD, in her first year of university.

 

Her project, “A Tin a Day” reuses containers with self-care products provided to lower-income and homeless populations in Amiskwacîwâskahikan or Edmonton. They reuse containers filled with self-care products and a QR code directly linking to mental health resources. Christine grew up on a low income and struggled with mental health but was unable to gain resources due to her situation. She started volunteering as soon as she could drive and fell in love with her community. She couldn’t sleep one night and came up with the idea to create a project that would help create social change. She was able to gain resources but not everyone is that fortunate. There are difficulties brought on by the pandemic, inequalities, and other barriers so there is a need to create change more now than ever. With that, A Tin A Day was born. These tins are donated, otherwise, they’d end up in the landfill. Mental health is an essential role in what A Tin A Day Supports. The QR code connects the user to the A Tin A Day website with resources.

 

A Tin A Day has delivered over 200 tins in less than a month. They are constantly adding more resources each week to their website and focus on giving back to the community by sharing QR codes across the city inside cades and bulletin boards. They also have been working with small businesses in Edmonton for their products. 

 

A few months ago, Christine was feeling really down and gave out tins as she normally does. There was this lady in a tent and Christine gave her a self-care tin.

 

“I gave her the tin and she started crying. I asked if she was alright and she said I’ve never had anyone care about me.” 

 

Anne Marie Elpa is a headstrong journalist and pageant queen on a mission to inspire a generation of confident dreamers and changemakers. She holds the title of Miss Toronto United World and is set to compete in June for the national title of Miss Canada United World. 

 

“It's a difficult conversation to have. ⅕ people struggle with mental health but 5/5 people have mental health. Everyone is a part of the conversation.” Anne Marie said.

 

After a series of mental health episodes, she was diagnosed with bipolar II in April 2021. Bipolar II is characterized by fluctuating stages of hypomania and depression. It is less severe than bipolar I but can still impact daily life. She learned more about her diagnosis and was thinking about how she can educate others around her and use her experience in pageantry. It stemmed from sharing resources as a content creator to volunteering with the International Bipolar Foundation blogging about her story and penning an op-ed in the CBC. With enough time and resources, she hopes to take this initiative further by creating a mentorship program through local changemakers. 

 

Through this project, Anne Marie had her piece for the CBC go live in December. She received messages from individuals who live with bipolar. She has spoken to young girls 8-14 about navigating mental health and self-esteem. By starting the conversation on bipolar disorder, she wants to jump-start the conversation on bipolar disorder and send a message that your mental illness does not define who you are. 

 

“I started watching pageants at 6 years old. I turned on the TV and started watching it. I saw someone who looked like me and it meant a lot. It gives me the narrative and presence to be seen. By creating the conversation and putting something larger out there. Your obstacles do not define you,” Anne Marie said. 

 

Here are our top 3 takeaway activities from the webinar that we encourage you to engage with: 

  • Go out there and experience your community, and see who needs support or awareness. 
  • Learn more about your local community and see how you can support them. Donate your time or resources to make your community a better place.
  • Learn more about bipolar disorder and learn how to support those who have it.

 

On June 5, 2022, we are hosting another Student Voices Webinar where panelists will speak about the theme “Life is Beautiful,” topics include PRIDE month, Health Improvement, Kindness, Diversity Embracement, and so much more! We would love to see you there. If you are interested in being a speaker for June's panel, apply here

Or, if you’re interested in the topics but don’t want to be a speaker, sign up as an attendee, and we’ll see you on June 5! Attend June Student Voices Webinar

 

We are taking a break after this panel but will return in August. We hope to see you there!

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