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On February 22-25 2021, HM|HC campus stakeholders and community partners attended the 2021 Summit, We Belong to Each Other: Cultivating Campus Communities for Mutual Well-Being. This Summit was an opportunity for our community of practice to come together once again for our collective pursuit of mental well-being and healthy relationships with substances in post-secondary institutions in British Columbia.
We were mindful of Zoom fatigue so imagine the classic Healthy Minds | Healthy Campuses Summit but reconstructed. The 2021 Summit took place virtually for a week of events with interactive sessions, thoughtful keynotes, invigorating panels and reflective breakouts. There were also opportunities for co-learning and collaboration with the hope to build collective momentum to strengthen our campus communities.
Who are our campus communities comprised of?
What are the implications and benefits of mutual well-being?
The 2021 Summit strove to take a deeper look into the above questions as we learn how to come together to build and strengthen our campus communities. From international students to part-time and mature students, from health promotion teams to administrative staff, from disability services to financial services, we all belong to our campuses, and we all can contribute to creating a sense of belonging within our communities.
Since COVID-19 had dispersed us from our physical campuses, we talked about what it meant to care for one another and be responsible to each other as we go about our day-to-day lives – even if it means from one Zoom meeting to another.
How have campus stakeholders – staff, faculty, administration and students – forged partnerships within their post-secondary institution and with outside organizations to strengthen the impact of efforts to enhance well-being? Campus life continues to evolve in light of continued changes due to COVID-19 and over the past few months, we have heard of the rapid virtualization of campus initiatives. Now we wanted to come together to learn from each other and further our efforts to promote collective well-being.
The 2021 Summit touched upon three streams that cultivate conversations for mutual well-being in our current reality:
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion on Campus
This stream reflects the richness that fills our campuses. The diversity in cultures, the variety in thought and uniqueness of each campus member. As we learn how COVID-19 has magnified the discrimination and racism faced by our campus members and discover the various barriers encountered by our friends and colleagues, we cannot be collectively well until everyone is well. Before we can dismantle barriers, we must listen to and learn from our community members most affected. In this stream we seek to amplify the voices of community members affected the most and search for solutions that align with EDI principles.
Communities without Borders
Empty campuses do not mean empty communities. As our reality continues to be largely virtual and physically distant, campuses are still fostering social connection and creating a sense of belonging and opportunities for engagement under these circumstances. As campus communities are no longer confined to the physical spaces of campuses, this stream highlights those initiatives and welcomes conversation on the strengths and challenges of building virtual communities.
Response to COVID-19
As we approached the one year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wished like to reflect on the response to COVID-19 and how we have adapted thus far to our new normal. While we have all had to face different realities and experiences, one thing is clear: the pandemic has posed enormous challenges. In light of these challenges, what lessons learned can be of benefit to us moving forward? In this stream we wanted to highlight efforts in fostering resiliency and creating conditions for well-being for campus members in view of COVID-19.
Indigenous Opening (9:00am – 10:00am)
Translating Equity, Diversity and Inclusion into Healthy Relationships and Campuses by Dr. Adrienne Chan (10:00am – 11:30am)
In this keynote address, Dr. Chan asked participants to consider the ways in which inequity, exclusion, and the promotion of uniformity/homogeneity all contribute to anxiety and unhealthy learning organizations and campuses. We then have to take action on how we can change this. To create healthy campuses in the post-secondary system, we all have a role to play, to support each other, and to create an environment of mental well-being.
The Great Disconnect documentary (watch on your own time before the 3:00pm panel)
Wellness expert Tamer Soliman journeyed through North American cities to meet with local citizens, community activists, and leading authorities on social, economic, and urban planning to discover the true factors that have profound and lasting impacts, not only on our health, but the health of the communities in which we live. This timely documentary invited us to reflect on the relationships we have with those around us and raises the question: is it possible to overcome our modern culture of disconnectedness and rediscover how truly essential we are to one other?
Social Connection in Communities Without Borders (3:00pm – 4:00pm)
Tamer Soliman (Director of The Great Disconnect) and members from our community of practice held a roundtable discussion on how COVID-19 has impacted social connection and what is on the horizon as our communities extend beyond campus grounds.
Lateral Liberation by Kim Haxton (10:00am – 12:00pm)
This workshop was intended to equip campuses with the right tools for understanding the calls to action on Truth and Reconciliation, and begin to do the work to create new awareness within the structures and systems we find ourselves in. Through the collaboration and group process in reflection upon the 94 calls to action, including experiential activities, participants left with a clearer sense of purpose, capacity and connection to these relationships. We were given tools and confidence to liberate us from the otherwise invisible beliefs and biases that would prevent us from making structural shifts in ourselves and our work in the world, with each other.
Campus Innovation Talks (1:00pm – 2:30pm)
These fast-paced presentations introduced new concepts, programs and early research relevant to BC campuses. These sessions showcased a variety of presentations that discussed student engagement, happiness in the classroom and how to cope with COVID-19 anxiety.
Connecting with Campus: Undergraduate Student Challenges and COVID-19 by Nicole Malette (10:00am – 11:30am)
Going to university or college is supposed to be great: It’s a chance to reinvent yourself, enjoy new freedoms, impress professors with your keen intellect and basically have the time of your life. But, how can this be true during COVID-19? Sometimes it’s hard just to get out of bed to attend online classes, let alone juggle family expectations, a part-time job and midterm deadlines. This keynote session discussed some of the most common wellness challenges undergraduate students face during the pandemic and strategies we (students, faculty, staff) can all draw on to support each other.
Diversity in Mental Health (12:30pm – 1:30pm)
Our backgrounds, cultures and the way we experience life around us influences our well-being and mental health. This panel invited BIPOC experts to discuss the importance of incorporating diverse perspectives and voices when it comes to promoting mental health on campuses and ways we can move forward collectively.
HM|HC Talks (2:30pm – 3:30pm)
The aim of HM|HC Talks is to mimic online meetings where attendees not only interact with speakers but also other attendees on various health literacy topics. Participants engaged in dialogue about connection during COVID, pandemic gains and losses and student mental health
Dialogue Sessions (11:00am – 12:30pm)
These dialogue sessions promoted a deeper understanding of one or more of the Summit’s streams and ensured interaction with and among attendees. Facilitators held engaging activities and dialogic conversations about EDI, campus suicide prevention, diversity circles and much more!
So, how are we doing? (2:00pm – 4:00pm)
The community of practice gathered to discuss the impact of Healthy Minds | Healthy Campuses. This was an interactive session in which we constructed the stories and narratives that reflected our experiences as a learning community. Input and contributions collected throughout the Summit were used to stimulate the conversation and were reflected in the stories we created together.
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