Sheridan Jack Talk aims to start mental health conversations

BY HAYLEY SMITH AND MEGAN D’ANDREIS

Sheridan is hosting a Jack Talk. Similar to a Ted Talk, there will be youth speakers discussing mental health on Thursday, Nov 1.

The talk is organized and hosted by Jack.org, a Canadian national charity, training and empowering young people to break down barriers preventing mental health conversations.

Jack.org was founded by Eric Windeler and Sandra Hanington in May 2010, after their 18-year-old son, Jack Windeler died by suicide while in post-secondary. 

The couple started a memorial fund at Kids Help Phone, which grew to The Jack Project. In 2012, The Jack Project transitioned its location to Queen’s University. By doing so, they were able to work more directly with young leaders to focus on improving mental health. In 2013 The Jack Project rebranded as Jack.org, becoming an independent registered charity.   

Ben LeBlanc is the lead of Jack.org’s Sheridan Chapter. He started the chapter last year, wanting to make a difference in mental health conversations on campus.

“We’ve got a chapter here at Sheridan, where we work to create programming, events, and ideas that resonate with our community, and Jack.org supports us to do that,” LeBlanc says.

Ben LeBlanc at a Jack.org Sheridan event. Photo courtesy of Jack.org Sheridan.

A chapter is a group of young people working together on the Jack movement. They work all year to identify positive mental health in their communities. Chapters typically are started at high schools or post-secondary schools. There are about 187 chapters across Canada, although that number continues to grow.

Jack.org has Jack Talks, chapters and summits. A summit brings together youth mental health advocates from all over Canada. At the summits, you can listen to keynote speakers, participate in workshops, share insights, and collaborate on real, actionable strategies.

Speakers performing at the Jack Talk will be Chrissy Sharma and Sadia Fazelyar. They will begin their talk with an introduction to mental health and will talk about how one can make a difference in their mental health and of others around them. 

Having speakers who are trained ensures that the conversations are safe and positive, yet effective.

Jack.org Sheridan’s latest initiative is the production of Pause, a magazine that will be published early next year.

Brittany Tapper, co-lead and communications director for Jack.org Sheridan, was inspired to create Pause when she came across a health and wellness magazine in a grocery store. This magazine caused her to think of ways to incorporate something like it into the chapter at Sheridan.

“Our magazine is centred primarily around mental health, but through a Sheridan lens,” says Tapper.

Departments from each campus are coming together to contribute to the project. Graphic Design students are working on the layout and illustrations and students and faculty are writing personal stories.  

Jack.org Sheridan’s letter to students.

The magazine aims to reduce shame, stigma, and barriers surrounding mental health programs while promoting a more holistic view of mental health. 

Although the magazine discusses the topic of mental health, it is created in a fun and informative way. Participants aimed to make the magazine aesthetically pleasing and wanted it to catch the eye of their readers.

On Bell Let’s Talk Day, 5,000 copies of Pause will be distributed free between each campus.

As Sheridan’s first Jack Talk, it is expected to be an evening full of inspiration and mental health literacy.

The event is free at The Den on Davis Campus, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and is open to Sheridan students, faculty and staff. If you are planning to attend, you must register online.

If you are interested in inquiring about Pause or would like to donate to the initiative, contact Brittany Tapper.

About Megan D'andreis 6 Articles
Megan is a second-year journalism student at Sheridan College. She is passionate about lifestyle, beauty, and fashion.

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