- Mental Health
- Substance Use
- Healthy Living
At the 2015 Balancing our Minds Youth Summit, held on February 12 at Roger’s Arena, the Champions of Wellness Awards made their debut. The premise behind these awards was that other awards to honour those making changes in the field of mental health often left youth competing with adults who had more time to establish themselves. These awards were seen as a way to bridge that gap and I firmly believe that they have done just that.
As the nominations for the first Champions of Wellness Awards poured in, my heart swelled reading about each nominee. Youth from across the province were doing incredible work, contributing towards ending the stigma of and increasing the quality of care for mental health challenges. I thought back to my own days in high school and how I not only didn’t know that what I was experiencing was a mental health challenge, but also that I never would have dreamed of sharing that experience with others. The loneliness of experiencing a mental health challenge can be palpable.
And here were so many youth not only openly discussing mental health challenges (sometimes their own!) but taking the initiative to reach out to others around them. They reached out to support loved ones, helped their communities grow, and contributed towards ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.
The three categories for the Champions of Wellness Awards are: Sharing Your Story; Supporting Others; and Community Involvement. These were created in order to cover the span of how people can affect change around mental health - whether from a personal, interpersonal, or community approach, all of them matter and carry so much weight behind them.
This year’s winners for Sharing Your Story, Supporting Others, and Community Involvement were Sarah Balderson, Dan Nixon and Connor McCracken, respectively (pictured above). They were honored at the 2015 Youth Summit and presented with medals and a jersey by Kevin Bieksa; seeing the smiles on their faces as they received their awards was truly inspiring.
We’re so excited to begin accepting nominations for this year’s Champions of Wellness Awards, and I’m so excited to hear all about the amazing work youth are doing in the field of mental health in BC. If you know of an exceptional youth 25 or under who’s making a difference in mental health, click here to nominate them.