crawl walk run crawl
An hour long event was held this past in May to raise awareness about mental health at Windsor Park Collegiate. It also served as the pick up point for racing gear for a run to support mental health in the community. Also, a couple of teachers cut off both some head hair and some beard hair after certain goals were attained (over 150 people registered for the team). In addition there were a couple of speeches by people affected by mental health.
The purpose of this post is not to describe how great the event was (though it was great). Nor to describe the run (in which ~10% of the estimated 1000 runners were associated with Windsor Park). The purpose of this post is to briefly describe how it came together.
The aim for the entire initiative, as stated by the students in a message to me, was to "bring mental health concerns to the eyes and ears of the public in our school and the Windsor Park community". This succinct statement was the result of a number of sessions I had with them exploring what change they would like to make in their world. It started from a handful of brave students stating that in their experience there were people in authority both inside and outside the school who would demonstrate insensitivity towards mental health concerns. Rather than condemning individuals what this group wanted to do was try to first understand why people would be insensitive and then try to design an experience that could help make them more empathetic. In other words, they would demonstrate empathy in order to make it okay for others to do the same.
So, they found something that already existed (the mental health run) and decided to attach their purpose to it. Not only that, but they organized a running group that met weekly for 6 weeks leading up to the event. This would serve as a way for people to not only train but to build relationships and understanding.
Now, this was the first time they and the school put something like this together. Changes in the world do not simply happen. Left on their own things trend towards deterioration. It takes the effort and hearts of good ordinary people to make things better.