Meet University of Wilfrid Laurier Ambassador Alyson Yoshida
To fully appreciate Alyson Yoshida’s unbridled passion for Cam’s Kids’ mandate and her role with the foundation, we take you to Uxbridge northeast of Toronto, and more specifically, its secondary school of the same name.
Prior to this past school year ending, Alyson visited her alma mater to address Grade 12 graduating students, primarily introducing them to the foundation and the “copious amounts of information, tips, tools and tricks” available to help with anxiety and related issues, but also stressing the fact that they’re not alone when feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious.
“There are so many kids who need attention right now when it comes to mental health,” says Alyson, who, as the Cam’s Kids Team Lead at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, is on a mission to reverse the debilitating effects of the isolating COVID years.
“I brought the idea (of addressing the students) to (Cam’s Kids National Ambassador Manager) Brittany (McGibbon) because I thought it would be a really great way to say ‘Hey, you have a personal connection to this. Mitch (Hicks) went to the same high school as you. Cam (Hicks) went to the same high school as you.”
“So many Ambassadors, at schools all over Ontario, went to USS (Uxbridge Secondary School) or are from the Durham Region area. It’s not so much about getting them to join (Cam’s Kids) but more letting them know about resources that are there for them.”
Majoring in English, with a minor in education, Alyson will begin the third year of her four-year program this fall. When she first arrived at Wilfrid Laurier, her seeking out, and getting involved with Cam’s Kids, was rooted in her hometown familiarity with the foundation and its stated purpose.
“I loved that it (Cam’s Kids) was something that had come out of Uxbridge and had come from a local family that expanded it so far; it’s amazing that this happened in our small town,” raves Alyson, expressing her admiration for the Hicks family’s being able “to take something that was so devastating and make it into this amazing organization.”
Started in September 2019, the Cam’s Kids team at Wilfrid Laurier has met with modest success, with pandemic restrictions putting a dent in any lasting momentum. But true to her nature, Alyson is looking forward, not back.
“Come the fall, my main priority is going to be on boarding,” she says.
“I’m really going to push to try to get more people involved and really spread awareness about the club. COVID caused so many issues. It has
been a pain trying to get on-campus events going but we do events on online. We get most of our attention on Instagram. Even people who aren’t Ambassadors are engaging with us there.”
As for being Team Lead, Alyson says she’s up to the challenge, with one caveat.
“The communication part…the meetings and answering emails. I really don’t like computer work. I want to push on campus in-person meetings. In-person connection is really important. With two years of Cam’s Kids involvement on the horizon, Alyson says her long-range ambition is to secure a position with the foundation, with the ultimate goal of introducing and facilitating the foundation’s work at more
“It’s amazing to know there’s so many people who are passionate about the same thing as me,” she says of Cam’s Kids coast-to-coast footprint.
“I have no idea who they are but I know there’s a whole bunch of us. It brings tears to my eyes knowing there are so many who are passionate about young people’s mental health.”
“Cam’s Kids is the best thing that has happened to me. Even if you only stay
with it for one year, you’ll have 365 days of knowledge you didn’t have!
In the meantime, Alyson says her Cam’s Kids involvement has seen her live her life “with more compassion.”
“If somebody is rude to me at the grocery store, I now say to myself ‘That’s not them being a bad person. They’re just having a bad day.’ I’m more aware of the real time and tangible effects of anxiety that exist for people on a day-to-day basis. I find myself much more empathetic and aware of mental health issues in general.”
‘That’s helped me overcome lots of my anxiety. ‘Hey, this doesn’t have to consume you. Let it be for two to three days and then move forward.’ Not living with the constant weight of anxiety on my shoulders makes me a better person. I can be a better friend. I can be a better partner. I can be a better teacher.”