This year, MGCI’s Health and Wellness Committee  was founded by Ms. Akler, the ACL of Guidance/Mental Health and Wellbeing and Community Partnerships, with the aim of providing a safe space for students to discuss and to learn about mental and physical health. Beginning 9 March 2021, the new cohort of the club will run weekly meetings until the closing reflection  session on 6 April 2021.

This committee has been meeting for several months and the current cohort consists of ten students. Applications for the committee have been open for a few weeks through the Guidance Grade Google Classrooms. The committee meets in a virtual format on Zoom and has adapted well to pandemic restrictions, thanks to the teacher leads, school social workers, and CYW who organize discussions and support student-led initiatives. 

“I finally had people to talk to about relevant issues and topics, and the club is full with listeners,” said Grade 10 student Omar Memon. “Everyone listened to each other’s ideas, and everyone contributed somehow. Everyone felt included and excited about the upcoming projects that we, as a club, have planned. In a more fifteen-year-old-teenage-term: the club was full of good vibes.”

Groups of ten to twelve students meet on Zoom at 3:30 pm on Tuesdays, where they explore various topics and strategies about managing and supporting their mental and physical health. Discussions are focused on many facets of student life, such as time management, grief, stress, anxiety, social isolation, COVID-19 concerns, and school communities. Participants analyse and examine these concepts through strategies, scenarios, guiding questions, and active discussions.

“It’s amazing to see everyone stepping up and bringing in new ideas to the table,” Zahra Ahmed, one of the student leaders, said. “It’s also the closest feeling to a normal school year, because we’re all engaged and ready to get started.”

A school-wide initiative organized by the club is the Mindful Minute videos, where students destress and focus on wellness for one to two minutes during the day. Videos are produced by students using Adobe Spark Video—introduced to members by Ms. Legrow—and include encouraging words and phrases to motivate listeners during the start of their day.  Mindful Minute is played on the morning announcements at MGCI, and the committee has distributed copies to teachers. 

“Students have had an extremely rough road this year, obviously, due to COVID. Mindful Minute was made to pave the bumpy road, to forget everything, even if for only a minute, to take a deep breath and slow down,” explained Omar Memon, who edited and produced the videos.

In addition to the Mindful Minute initiative, Zahra Ahmed is currently leading MGCI’s Journal of Gratitude. The project’s goal is to encourage students to take time out of their day to practise gratitude and focus on wellbeing which encourages participants to think about and re-examine gratefulness. The initiative aims to produce a journal of responses collected from students and  TDSB staff. Committee members have shared the link with their teachers. After completion, pages of the journal will be arranged to create a mural in the foyer of the school. 

Overall, the club has been quite successful this year.

Applications have been open for a few weeks, and committee members are eager to accept new students into a safe and open environment. If school returns to in-person learning in September, the organization is planning in-person meetings, monthly initiatives, and school-wide events to promote and raise awareness about personal wellness while connecting students to their community.

“I am so proud of all the hard work and commitment of the student leaders,” concluded Ms. Akler. “One of our goals is to keep this momentum going and try to reach more students!”

If you would like to submit a response for Journal of Gratitude, you are welcome to do so through this form: https://forms.gle/nMoxdC9jCcvg5brr8. Please use your TDSB account when accessing the form.