Students dare Londoners to connect for mental health

NightA 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

Details are available online on the Night to Connect Facebook page and through Twitter at @anighttoconnect.



Canada-wide walk helps vulnerable populations on Coldest Night of the Year

ColdestAlthough temperatures in London are expected to be well above average this weekend, no night is colder than when faced alone.

On Saturday, Feb. 20, more than 15,000 Canadians — of all ages, in six time zones, in cities and towns from the Pacific to the Atlantic — will walk together in the Coldest Night of the Year, which supports those who often find themselves living alone on local streets.

Locally, Mission Services of London organized the event for the fifth time and expects 300 walkers and more than 60 volunteers.

With a fundraising goal of $60,000, proceeds will help support people in need in London and area through their five branches.

“This event helps participants understand what it might be like if they walked to some of our branches on a downtown route that is 2 km, 5 km or 10 km – walker’s choice,” said event director Irma Haggith-Fonseca from Mission Services of London. “The developers of this event wanted to raise awareness around homelessness and the risk of homelessness both in various locations and nationally, which is why it happens across the country on the same day.”

The Coldest Night of the Year walk gets underway at Catholic Central High School (CCH, 450 Dundas St.) with check-in getting underway at 4 p.m.

The kick off and official greetings take place at 5 p.m. with Mayor Matt Brown expected.

The walk begins at 5:15 p.m. with 2 km, 5 km and 10km,routes available, along with walkers’ choice.

Following the walk, family-friendly entertainment, refreshments and chilli will be available back at CCH.

Registration information, along with details of the available routes, are available online at


Province commits to improved access to services for young children and families

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was in London on Feb. 19 to announce her government is delivering on its commitment to make it easier to access supports for children and families.

Speaking at the White Oaks Family Centre, the premier — along with Deputy Premier and London North Centre MPP Deb Matthews and Education Minister Liz Sandals — announced the launch of Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres.

These hubs will offer parents and their children a suite of early years programs, as well as local services tailored to their communities.

“The early years can be the most rewarding — and the most stressful — for a young family. As premier, one of my essential duties is building an Ontario where everyone has the opportunity to flourish at every stage of life,” Wynne said. “By making access to programs and resources more convenient and easier to use, we are investing in the hopes, dreams and aspirations of parents and caregivers, and building a more prosperous future for our children.”

The province currently funds four programs that offer a variety of services at different locations: Ontario Early Years Centres, Parenting and Family Literacy Centres, Child Care Resource Centres and Better Beginnings, Better Futures.

These four programs will be transformed and combined into one suite of integrated services as part of Ontario’s early years modernization plan.

Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres will be, according to Wynne, more convenient to use and easier to navigate. They will provide a common set of core services, as well as the flexibility to provide additional, customized services to meet local needs.

The transformation process will start immediately, with Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres in place in 2018.

Until then, families will still be able to access current services.

These centres will offer parents and children:

  • Early learning experiences for children under seven, as well as their families and caregivers, with trained staff and a variety of engaging materials on site
  • Family programs and workshops on topics such as child development, parenting, and post-partum support
  • Engaging drop-in programs where children and families can connect with friends and neighbours from their communities
  • Information and referrals to specialized community services.

“We want to give children the best possible start in life — and we’re committed to supporting parents so their children can learn, grow, and develop,” Sandals said. “Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres will help build an early years system that is high quality, seamless and accessible for children and families.”


March Break and summer camps available at London Clay Art Centre

ClayRegistration is open for March Break and summer clay camps at the London Clay Art Centre.

Children and teens will not only be working with clay, but also expressing their creative side as well.

Camps will be held in the London Clay Art Centre, a fully renovated historic building in Old East Village.

Camps will cover a range of skills from handbuilding techniques to throwing on the potter’s wheel. All materials are included with the registration fee. Students will create 6 -12 pieces, glazed and kiln fired.

The March Break Camps are half days and will focus on teaching students the basics of working with clay. Summer camps are full or half days.

Various age group divisions ensure there is something for everyone from age six to age 18.

“The courses are open to all levels of experience as the projects are open enough to be completed by all levels, with the goal of developing skills,” said instructor Beth Turnbull Morrish.

The full-day camps for teens will cover a wider range of artistic subject matter.

Time will be divided between ceramic techniques and other art media including recycled art, public art and performance art.

The program for teens age 15-18 will also discuss art as a career pursuit, touching on portfolio development, art and entrepreneurship, writing for art and more. In addition to improving technique, students will also benefit from a fun and welcoming environment.

“We will also be silly and have fun . . . it is day camp after all,” Turnbull Morrish said. “We’ll make messes and go outside every day. Bring lunch, snacks, water bottle, a sketchbook and an open mind.”

Additional instructors include: Karen Bailey, Kyle Thomson, Danielle Moynihan, Nancy Marshall and Marilyn Barbe.

For more information, contact the London Potters Guild at the London Clay Art Centre, 519-434-1664.