A Western University class project is being used to raise funds for — and awareness of — mental health services.
Western Continuing Studies students enrolled in the not-for-profit management graduate diploma program are hosting a live music event on Thursday, Feb. 25, at Rum Runners (176 Dundas St.).
The evening is designed to foster connection, fight mental health stigma, and raise funds for Connect for Mental Health.
The experience will also serve as a learning opportunity. The five graduate students are required — as part of their event management class — to put on a fundraiser to gain hands-on experience in soliciting sponsorships and in-kind donations, preparing a budget, and executing an event.
However, they get to decide what they want to do and what organization they’re going to support.
“We could have done something small like a clothing swap, but we wanted to raise at least $1,000 for Connect for Mental Health so we knew we had to go bigger,” said 26-year-old student Miranda Scotland.
Connect for Mental Health is a local non-profit providing peer support by and for persons who have been affected by mental illness.
At Western, the organization runs a support group for students who may need guidance in areas such as handling stress, managing school, and identifying coping strategies.
The students chose Connect for Mental Health because they’ve all been affected by mental illness and understand the need for the services the organization provides.
“Coping with any kind of mental illness can be a challenge, which I know first-hand,” said 24-yearold student Stephanie Winterton. “I spent high school and my undergrad figuring out how to live my life the way I wanted to, without my anxiety holding me back. It’s an ongoing battle, and we want to use this night as a way to encourage others to step up and fight to live the lives they envision, rather than become limited by their mental health.”
Organizers are calling the event Night to Connect to link to Connect for Mental Health and to also promote the importance of social connection.
When a person doesn’t feel socially connected their health suffers and they’re more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, antisocial behaviour and suicidal behaviours, which leads to further isolation.
To bring people together on the night, 70 guests will be given white T-shirts (donated by Collins Formal Wear), along with a checklist of ways to connect such as, sign someone else’s T-shirt or shake hands with a stranger.
T-shirts will also be available for purchase.
Performing at the event will be award-winning singer/songwriter Carly Thomas, the talented Alex Mason, and Fanshawe student GINGE.
Tickets for Night to Connect are available for $15. Doors open at 8 p.m. and music starts at 9 p.m.
For more information contact Stephanie Winterton, project leader, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details are available online on the Night to Connect Facebook page and through Twitter at @anighttoconnect.