Last week Thursday, all 711 students at École Morden Middle School took part in a Mental Health Expo organized by Guidance Counsellors Dan Muggridge, Christine Andrews and Jessica Verhoog. 

Verhoog explained why this is an important event for all students to take part in. 

"We started this event in 2018 because we saw a need then to be able to proactively have kids think about ways to improve their wellness so that they're able to weather storms in their lives. And I think after the pandemic, people really realized that it was a much greater need across the board. And so, I think that's why keeping these events going is really important, to be able to make sure that we're thinking about filling that strength bucket, not just reacting to when problems are in crisis."  

All students were able to hear from local Keynote Speaker Sonia Funk a Nutritional Therapist from The Whole Avocado. 

"Sonia really talked about how to be able to fuel up your body, to be able to make your nervous system and your body help support your mental health in the best way, and that's really important for kids to hear because it's something that they have a lot of control over, and something that often, middle school students don't realize has such a big impact on their mental mood. " 

Students listening to Keynote Speaker Sonia Funk from the Whole AvocadoStudents listening to Keynote Speaker Sonia Funk from the Whole Avocado

Students also attended 2 workshops from a variety of local presenters and others from around the province. Students filled out a survey to help them be placed in a workshop best suited to their interests and needs. 

"We had 20 selections for each grade group to choose from. In those 20 selections there were active choices, choices that were based more around feeling anxious, choices that were based more around mindfulness or being connected to eating. There were choices that really kind of gave them a broad variety according to their interests. Some of them were more like speakers talking about their personal experiences and how they dealt with adversity." 

Verhoog was happy to hear the positive feedback from the students since Thursday. 

"All the kids we've talked to were really impressed with the speakers. They really enjoyed how they talked with them and how things were very relatable and useful. All the kids were really excited coming back from their presenters because it was something that was gauged for their age group and really talked to them as middle school kids. Most of the students that participated in the events came away with life learning and things that they could apply in their lives and talk with all their teachers about ways they could use what they had learned." 

Verhoog said connecting students to the community and making them aware of the resources available, will stay with them after they leave school and root them in the community because they are able to access them now and in the future.