This blog was originally shared on April 27, 2017 on ryersonstudentaffairs.com as part of #RoadtoCACUSS 2017 – a bike ride from Toronto to Ottawa embarked on by professionals from several institutions in support of youth mental health.
#RoadtoCACUSS 2017 is a wellness journey that will culminate in Student Affairs Professionals from across the country cycling from Toronto to Ottawa to attend the annual Canadian Association of College and University Student Services conference. The bike trip begins on June 4, 2017 but the journey will start long before that as participants train, prepare, and gear up for the adventure.
We’re all well aware of the ongoing mental health issues that our students continue to deal with. Demand for counselling and support services is at an all time high. There are many ongoing campaigns to help end the stigma and we know it’s important to continue these conversations and do our part in raising awareness and funds for youth mental health.
Knowing that this ride from Toronto to Ottawa was going to be a personal wellness journey for the nearly 20 student affairs professionals going, we wanted to partner with an organization that shares our dedication to health promotion. Finding the right cause and the right partner helped to establish meaning for our participants. Not only are we training to improve our own well-being, but we are committed to something much bigger than this ride and Jack.org is the ideal partner to help us get there.
Jack.org has over 120 student chapters on our campuses and in our high schools across the country. They are a national network of young leaders dedicated to transforming the way we think about mental health. With a “for students, by students” approach, Jack.org provides programming and innovative strategies to improve mental health in our communities. As student affairs professionals, we wanted to make an intentional connection with this organization so that we can be a resource for their young leaders on campus and help amplify their message.
By signing up to participate in our ride, each of our riders has committed to fundraise for this cause. All the funds raised for Jack.org will go towards enhancing the programming and support services offered at the local chapters on our campuses. We know it takes buy-in from the entire institution to change the culture and have a significant impact on the way we support mental health. Our hope is that this will be the start of a long lasting partnership between Student Affairs and student led initiatives by Jack.org that will compliment each other’s programming on campus. Therefore providing more touch points and more resources for students. You can help by supporting our riders and youth mental health.
In addition to the benefits in terms of funds and awareness raised for mental health, as well as improvement to participants overall well-being, this journey has helped to inspire and motivate staff. The increased employee engagement is a great byproduct of this philanthropic initiative. Having support from the university to take on the task of planning, organizing, training, and embarking on this ride has proved a demonstration of our leadership’s commitment to institutional values and the development of the whole person.
It doesn’t take a grand venture like biking from Toronto to Ottawa to improve wellness at work, but the small changes in our daily habits to prepare for this ride have generated many positive results; a sense of connection, team camaraderie, shared goals, and experiences—all of which have helped to foster inspired and engaged employees. What can you do at your institution or workplace to embed health promotion into your culture?