by Maddie Savage, Reporter
On Saturday, March 9th, Laurentian’s Jack.org chapter held their second annual Toe Picks and Hat Tricks event at the Cambrian arena and raised $2400 that was donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). The organization plans to work with CMHA’s Sudbury/Manitoulin branch to hold more initiatives at Laurentian University.
“[Jack.org] promote[s] access to mental health resources on university campuses all over Canada and also just within the community,” Jenna Kennelly, Jack.org co-present and Biomed student, told Lambda.
“It was our second annual Toe Picks and Hat Tricks for mental health, [which is] based on the show Battle of the Blades, where a famous hockey player gets paired with a famous figure skater and they have to perform figure skating routings.”
Kennelly said 9 pairs of skaters put on routines.
She added that the ticket proceeds are put directly back into the community as the chapter partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association Sudbury/Manitoulin Branch. Kennelly said that these funds will be used for initiatives at Laurentian University.
“[The Canadian Mental Health Association] is going to meet with us and discuss ways that they can use those funds to specifically do initiatives or outreach at Laurentian,” said Kennelly.
Kennelly also said that they will be handing out exam care packages, which they do every December and April exam season.
“Our members book a room for an evening and we put together about 200 exam care packages. With [things] like snacks, and juice boxes, and little exam pick me ups. And then we go to the library and hand them out and chat with students about how they’re doing exam wise because it’s a pretty stressful time,” she said.
Kennelly said that the organization tries to keep their events free or at a minimum cost.
“For university students it’s difficult if something costs money to go to and it’s time consuming because you’re already stressed about your money and time and managing everything,” she said.
“We try to do events that don’t take up too much of students’ time, but we still get the chance to chat with them and get the conversation going amongst themselves and their friends. [Hopefully] they take over and continue to talk about their mental health.”
Kennelly said the organization also participates in clubs day at Laurentian if anyone wants to get involved.
“It’s not a huge commitment,” Kennelly said. “Especially since we are a mental health advocacy club. We leave it up to our general members [to decide] how much they can do.”
Kennelly said she got involved with Jack.org after realizing she was having trouble dealing with her mental health in her first year of university.
“I realized that the first step and one of the most helpful steps is to just start talking about it and you’ll realize that you’re not alone and that’s a really healing feeling,” she said.
“When you’re trying to reach out and talk about mental health it can be really intimidating. The beauty of Jack.org is that we do fun, lighthearted events that are easy and don’t feel [as intimidating for people].”
Biomed stuent Chandelle Mensour, who is also Jack.org co-president said, “[Jack.org] is a student led organization that aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.”
Mensour got invovled with the organization through here sister, who started the club at Laurentian.
“Many universities have chapters across Canada, so she started the chapter at Laurentian,” Mensour said. “Right away in my first year I got involved with [Jack.org] as a general member, and then once she graduated [Jenna and I] became co-presidents in our second year.”
“A lot of my family members were struggling in silence with mental illness. I wanted to help try and open up the conversation which is basically everything that Jack.org stands for,” she said.
According to Mensour, the club aims to help educate students on mental health and mental health awareness.
“We do a lot of initiatives just to kind of remind students to take a break during exams and midterms. [Our initiatives focus on reminding students] to take care of themselves during such a stressful time,” Mensour said.
Mensour explained that a lot of students suffer with their mental health. “One of the quotes for Jack.org is ‘5/5 people have mental health and 1/5 people have a mental illness’,” Mensour said.
“Everyone has mental health and we can actually speak up about that and it doesn’t have to be so stigmatized. What was great about this event [is that] we’re allowed to speak about mental health in front of people and it not be stigmatized,” she said.
Overall, the second annual Toe Picks and Hat Tricks raised a total of $2400 for the Canadian Mental Health Association, which beat their goal of $2000.
You can follow their Instagram page @jackorglu for more information on upcoming initiatives.