A little over a month ago, Christopher Olson, the Communications & Technology head at Hillcrest High School, was forwarded an email regarding the Dare to Dream grant. This grant is a fund created to support young people with up to $5,000 to put into action for projects that support mental health and wellness in schools and communities across Ontario.
After reading it over, he decided to pitch the idea to me. I was very much interested and so we started to plan, budget, and write our proposal soon after.
After a period of time waiting, we were informed that our submission was successful. We had been awarded $5000 to support mental health and wellness at Hillcrest High School.
Through our project we plan to raise awareness on the issues and stigma surrounding mental illness. Mental illness is an minimized issue that impacts everyone in the world. Whether you suffer from it, a family member or friends does, or a classmate/co-worker does, it will have an impact on your life. Our school and student body has dealt with many mental illness tragedies, so making sure youth and children have a good mental health is crucial to us. We are collaborating with mental health professionals to guarantee that the information and advice we are providing is both safe and accurate. We realize that good mental health is not just the absence of poor mental health, therefore our end goal is to see that our school and community has accurate and real understanding of what mental health is and the consequences of mental illnesses are.
We plan on hosting two big events next school year. The first being a mental health week at the end of September, and the second being events held during the month of November (for Movember). We’ll be focusing on the Mental Health, and Suicide piece.
We have built a strong core group of dedicated students, excited to start working on this project.
We plan to continue updating the blog with our plans and much more!
Jillian Altmann & Christopher Olson - Hillcrest High School
On May 4th, 2017, Hillcrest High School hosted the Mamawi Together Event. The Mamawi Together Event is a powerful example of a community coming together to find its own way to support change on important and critical issues such as reconciliation in Canada. The highlights of the evening included: a panel discussion, cultural performances, as well as celebration and sharing. Close to 400 members of the community attended, and were encouraged to make a personal commitment on reconciliation. These commitments could have been written on a wall or as a video message, via Maple Shots.
We were honoured to welcome Senator Murray Sinclair, and MP Carolyn Bennet (the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs) as our panel guests. They fielded questions and led the discussion on Truth and Reconciliation. The questions were put forward by students who participated in the Youth for Reconciliation Day.
Throughout the evening, there were several cultural performances including:
Tarniriik Throat Singers - Samantha Kigutaq-Metcalfe and Cailyn Degrandpre (Senator Sinclair & Carolyn Bennet joined in).
Prairie Fire Metis Cultural Dancers - Riley, Hunter, and Jacob McKenzie.
First Nations' Hoop Dancer - Theland Kicknosway.
Chi-miigwech, listening to the youth was totally inspiring! Congratulations and it was a powerful night working towards raising awareness and truth and reconciliation.
The evening was made possible by: the OCDSB, the OCSB, the United Church of Canada, RBC, EXP, Hillcrest High School, KPMG, Experiences Canada, and Media Style.
Jillian Altmann - Hillcrest High School
What is a Global Village?
A Global Village is when people from around the school (students & staff) come together and represent their cultures. They do this by wearing traditional clothes and/or bringing traditional dishes.
What motivated you to organize it this year?
I went last year and saw how really great it was. It was really fun and nice to see everyone dressed up. Some people don't get to wear their traditional clothes and things from their own countries so it was a nice way for everyone to show their culture and school spirit.
How many cultures were represented?
Somali, Hawaii, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Congo, Holland/Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and many more!
What were some of the activities?
There was a lot of dancing, singing, fashion, and talking. The highlight of all the activities would have been all the dancing. Regardless of whether the songs were English, Spanish, Arabic, or really any language everyone came together and danced and sung.
Tell us about the food, what was there?
There were a lot of desserts and different type of treats. There was also some tabouli, sambuza, hummus, baklava, speculaas, etc.
Would you want to do it again next year?
Yes for sure! It was so much fun and should definitely be something we continue doing!
Sawsan Abusharkh - Hillcrest High School
The 7th annual Walk for Water event was held on October 19, 2016!
663 million people around the world do not have access to clean drinking water. In order to supply their families with water, girls would have to go on long 6 kilometers, on average, walks to the nearest water source while carrying large gallons of water which could weigh up to 20 pounds. If these girls have to go on this journey every morning, then they would either not be going to school or dropping out of school.
The event consists of a five kilometer walk from our school, Hillcrest High School, to the Ottawa river, in order to fill water cooler jugs from the river and return them to the school to water the gardens. Each student willing to participate would have to make a donation before attending the event, hoping to reach our $5000 goal that would be used to fund a water project which would provide a village with clean drinking water. This annual event also simulates the journey that many women around the world perform every day. As a study held in Tanzania proves that cutting the time spent every morning to obtain water would allow more than 40 percent of girls return to school.
This event could not have been done without the vast efforts form the students of impact club and their supervisory teacher, Mrs. Charron, to organise such an inspiring event.
Feras Balbous - Hillcrest High School
On April 6th & 7th, the Aga Khan Foundation's Exhibition came to Hillcrest High School. The Aga Khan Foundation has worked with Canada and Canadians to sustainably improve the quality of life of poor, marginalized communities in Asia and Africa. The together Exhibition is an innovative, interactive and multi-sensory experience designed to spark conversations about the role that Canadians can play in reducing global poverty.
Students, staff, neighbouring schools, and community members were invited to walk through the Exhibit and ask questions about Canada's role in reducing global poverty. We had an amazing turnout, with multiple students coming back from the exhibit asking more questions and wanting to learn more information. The truck was open from 9:00am to 5:30pm during the two days, allowing everyone the chance to take a look inside.
We were very grateful to have this opportunity and hope that some of you will be able to take a tour of the inside of the truck for yourselfs one day!
Jillian Altmann - Hillcrest High School
As a class we read a book called the Outside Circle which was about indigenous youth and their struggles. The characters showed ways to calm their anger and one of them was the smudge.
Kris Meawasige is an indigenous educator, and he is a resource for indigenous students to come to him to learn about their community and culture. He is Anishinaabe and he also teaches about other indigenous groups and their culture. We invited Kris to our class to help us understand and experience the smudge ceremony.
Kris taught us a lot. We learned about the 4 major medicines - sage, sweetgrass, cedar, and tobacco. He taught us about smudging and about his background. We felt educated and enlightened after his visit.
Kris was calm and kind, even mellow. He would let us understand and not focus on the negatives. He was a great listener and explainer. If he wasn’t sure about the answer he would tell us. He would explain the details that he knows; he is still learning every day from his elders and his community.
Kristine Klassen & Grade 10 Class - Hillcrest High School
The Black History Club produced an excellent assembly that included drama, art, music, and dance. Some alumni even came back to Hillcrest to speak on how being a part of the club had influenced their lives. The biggest highlight was a performance by Prufrock Shadowrunner. He performed several spoken word poems including a powerful version of Countdown. Prufrock has been a very supportive, and generous member of our community. The Black History Club holds regular meetings, and events throughout the year.
You can follow them on twitter: @HillcrestBHC
Christopher Olson - Hillcrest High School