On Friday, April 1, 2016, the York Catholic District School Board hosted its 1st Annual Mental Health Symposium for Elementary School Students, called "Be Empowered." The symposium promoted mental health and well-being in students, and built upon the success of last year's secondary school mental health symposium.
"Feedback from last year's Mental Health Secondary School Symposium was overwhelmingly positive," says Dr. Giuliana Malvestuto, Psychologist and Mental Health Lead, YCDSB. "This year we ran the conference again for our high school students, but we also wanted to offer a similar conference for elementary school students. Promoting positive mental health and sharing tips for well-being is beneficial for people of all ages, and student leaders in our elementary schools are well positioned to share what they learned at the symposium with their school communities."
The symposium helped to raise awareness about mental health, increase mental health literacy, and promote healthy coping and resiliency skills in students. At the symposium, students participated in an engaging presentation by Dr. Joel Goldberg, Speaker and Psychology Professor at York University; listed to youth speakers from charitable organization, Youth Speak; and gathered a variety of mental health resources from community organizations that specialize in mental health and well-being. Students also participated in workshops that fostered positive mental health and well-being, including workshops that explored art, drum fitness, journaling and colouring, healthy eating, drama, yoga, and design and invention. Teachers also participated in mental health workshops and activities designed to help them better meet both their own mental health needs and those of their students.
Students from St. Elizabeth performed a dance themed on the idea that "you are not alone," during the symposium's closing ceremonies. Finally the winners of the Elementary Student Mental Health Video Contests were screened and announced. Congratulations to the teams from St. David CES, St. Charles Garnier CES, and Christ the King CES for winning first, second and third place, respectively!
The 2nd Annual Mental Health Secondary School Symposium took place April 4, 2016. Approximately 125 students from high schools across the Board attended the Secondary School Symposium. It featured similar speakers and workshops, but adjusted slightly for the older audience. Winners of the Secondary Student Mental Health Video Contests were screened and announced. Congratulations to the teams from St. Theresa of Lisieux, which won first, and second place, as well as the team from Cardinal Carter that won third place.