Feature Image courtesy of Josie FitzPatrick- Left to right; Tara Rudy, Janine Reine, Melissa Sisson, Susan Nickel, Josie FitzPatrick
Submitted by Josie FitzPatrick – In the fall of 2015 we held a fundraiser in memory of our good friend Dwayne Eberle, who lost his battle with mental health in May of that year. With the support of his family and many friends, the fundraiser was able to raise close to $25,000.
Over the next 2 years we struggled to come up with a way to distribute the funds in a way that would not only honour his memory but, give back to the community he grew up in, and loved.
With that in mind, in the fall of 2017 Susan Nickel and myself(Josie FitzPatrick) came up with the idea of developing a program to implement in our schools. This program will aide children in the development of positive mental wellness. We named it EBS Mental Health Initiative. And our slogan is “Empower our youth to Believe in themselves to Strengthen well-being”.
Susan had the idea to approached Tara Rudy, who is a NP and also a mental health advocate for our health region, with our program idea and she jumped in to assist with its development. Through the approval of the program, we were able to bring in the two outreach workers from the schools, Janine Grassing and Melissa Sisson, to also help with development of this program.
In time our goal is to have this program designed for each school, Central Park, Wagner and L.P. Miller. Each level of the program will be geared to the appropriate age groups. Currently we are working with the Grade 2 classes at Central Park as a pilot program with our school system.
This program teaches 5 key areas that aide in the development of positive mental wellness practices, and teaches the kids what to do if they need assistance. Teaching children positive mental strategies from a young age will aide in the development of strong minded youth, so when confronted with inevitable difficulties, they will have strategies in place to help them cope.
With May being Mental Health Awareness month, we offered the opportunity to buy a t-shirt with the programs slogan “EBS- Empower. Believe. Strengthen.” And we are encouraging those in the community to wear their shirts on May 31st in support of Mental Health Awareness and as an opportunity to introduce our program to the community, and in memory of our friend.
As we move forward with this program, we will be doing more within the community to raise awareness for the program and what it does. We are starting this on a small scale, with the school staff, the credit union, and close friends. Next year, we hope to open this up on a larger scale to use it as a fundraiser for the program so we can continue with the development of the program. – Josie FitzPatrick, EBS Mental Health Initiative