As the crowd drew into the open concept space at the Center of Social Innovation, the dusk light shining from Spadina Ave provided the warm atmosphere for S.E.E.D.S. 5th Annual Benefit: The Science of Mental Health.
The S.E.E.D.S. Benefit is an annual event that aims to bring members of the community together in order to promote the development of healthy, inclusive communities in Toronto. Each year, the Benefit celebrates the organization’s achievements, brings awareness to the Toronto communities that have been impacted and, showcases community improvement initiatives designed by youth and inspired by science education and social innovation. This year’s benefit was focused on the science of mental health with a community-focused lens.
Maria Mihailoska, an individual, couples and family therapist took the audience was our first keynote speaker. She essentially delivered a crash course on the science of mental health from the most common disorders and symptoms to look out for, to associated stigma and how mindfulness and meditation should be viewed as guiding principles. Following her presentation, Maria guided the audience through a 10 minute mindfulness workshop which left the audience feeling relaxed for the rest of the evening.
Our second keynote speaker, Anita Dubey, Manager of Research Dissemination and Outreach at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) graciously spoke on how far Toronto has come in terms of awareness and yet how far we still have to go. She explained how how CAMH is putting forth efforts to provide mental health care for patients from those who have suffered from mental illness.
Each year, S.E.E.D.S. hosts a university level case completion on a specific theme. This past March, the competition focused on promoting inclusiveness & accessibility with physical activity. In groups, students pitched ideas on pilot programs they would like to implement in a specific needs-based Toronto community. First place winners Josiah Marquis, Samar Milan, Devanshi Shah, Alisha Manocha, and Jen Graham won first place with their idea, ‘ALLbility’. Three members of ALLbility took us through their proposal to increase physical activity in Toronto high schools through raising awareness via a social media campaign. The pilot program will challenge students to share their advocacy and engagement in health, and exercise related activities over the ALLbility social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) for period of 30 days. Top three student contributors to this cause will collaborate with Master of Public Health students in a Photovoice project to work towards supporting youth with disabilities with the goal of increasing accessibility in community spaces. With S.E.E.D.S. funding, the program is set to pilot this fall.
The evening also featured updated from our satellites operations, University of Toronto St. George chapter and Marketing departments on their latest campaigns and a warm closing from our CEO, Akanksha Ganguly.
Thank you to all who to all who attended, donated and supported our 5th annual Benefit. We look forward to seeing you next year.