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Students involved in awareness and fundraising calendar project for Southwest Nova Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association

Meadowfields students Jessica Zhu, Cirdan MacLeod, Ben Gushue, Connor Robinson, Caleum Hines and Zara Hemani display the drawings their contributed for the calendar.
Meadowfields students Jessica Zhu, Cirdan MacLeod, Ben Gushue, Connor Robinson, Caleum Hines and Zara Hemani display the drawings their contributed for the calendar.

YARMOUTH, N.S. – Find alone time for yourself everyday. Take small steps to bigger things. Reach out to someone. Practice positive self talk. Spending time with friends, doing fun activities, helps us feel connected.

All of these are suggestions to help with one’s mental health and wellness and the wisdom comes from the drawings of Grade 5 students.

Last year the Southwest Nova Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association carried out a project with Grade 5 students at Meadowfields Community School in Yarmouth. With the assistance of teacher Connie Penney, the students made drawings containing a mental health theme or message. Many of the drawings were later randomly chosen for a calendar. The drawings are sketches that can be coloured.

The calendar is being sold as a fundraiser for the southwest branch of the association. It has also been produced to raise awareness and to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The calendar contains lots of information for mental health and related services locally, regionally and provincially.

“When we started going around to the community and talking to advertisers, businesses, people were practically leaping over their desks to give us cheques,” says Peter Croxall, board chair of the branch. “And I have to give credit to Sentinel Printing. Loretta Davis bent over backwards and put a lot of time and effort into this.”

Croxall says they raised enough money from advertising to pay for the cost of printing, with about $1,000 left over after that. The calendars are selling for $10 and are available are numerous locations and businesses in Yarmouth town and county and from branch association board members.

“We’re hoping this will give us enough money to do some of the things we’d like to do in the community,” Croxall says, noting it’s been a bit of a struggle for the branch to have as large a presence as it would like.

“We’re just volunteers. We don’t have a lot of money. But we're hoping this will be really successful,” he says. They have held some events in the community since forming. As they get more funding and people involved they’d like to spread out their efforts to do more education, awareness and promotion.

The calendar is getting good reviews. Tri-County Regional School Board superintendent Paul Ash says it is a gentle reminder to everyone about the experiences people with mental illness may be having, and also demonstrates that we can all play a role in effecting positive change for others. He notes there is no more honest way to experience the world than though the eyes of a child.

To thank the students, who are now in Grade 6, on Sept. 21 members of the southwest association branch treated the students to some cake for their wonderful work on this project. The students also got to see the calendar for the first time.

The kids had as many questions about the cake as they did the calendar, but it was evident they were proud of their role in the project.

Student Zara Hemani’s drawing is featured on the front cover. It depicts a person in a hammock, enjoying a sunny day.

“I had three ideas. I went home and I drew them and I worked the hardest I could so I could spread a message,” she says.

In a society where it’s easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed, the Grade 6 student is asked what message she hopes people take away from looking at her drawing. She says, “That you can get alone time with yourself sometimes, and just relax.”

It’s good advice.

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