Meet McMaster University's Ambassador Amelia Wilson
While it would be a stretch to suggest Cam’s Kids is a part of Amelia Wilson’s DNA, there’s no denying the foundation was a fixture of sorts in her neighbourhood.
That, as things have turned out, has proven very influential.
A third-year Health Sciences student at McMaster University, the Uxbridge native’s involvement with Cam’s Kids at the Hamilton campus was nothing short of predestined, her having been raised in the same community as the Hicks family and, as such, exposed to the foundation’s work well before she graduated from high school.
“There was a lot of Cam’s Kids involvement (at Uxbridge Secondary School)…it seems everyone knew what Cam’s Kids was about,” recalls Amelia.
“I knew that once I got to McMaster, I wanted to get involved with Cam’s Kids. I didn’t know in what capacity or how I could get involved but I knew the message they had and the work they were doing, and I knew how amazing it was. I wanted to take what I knew about Cam’s Kids and try to be a part of it here (at McMaster).”
Easier said than done. Not unlike university students across the country, the scourge of the COVID pandemic forced Amelia online exclusively for the duration of her program’s first year. Still, Cam’s Kids was on her radar.
“I followed Cam’s Kids on Instagram and knew what they were up to,” recalls Amelia.
“When second year came around, I moved to Hamilton. I saw that they were advertising for Ambassadors. They were trying to build the club up and trying to get it ratified. With COVID, there were a lot of obstacles. But there were a lot of people from Uxbridge on the team. That’s kind of how I got connected.”
And get connected Amelia did, jumping eagerly into the fray as a Cam’s Kids Ambassador.
“Mental health and anxiety in university is so prominent,” she says.
“You see it everywhere, especially around exam time. You see stress and anxiety in the people you’re with, and the people you love. Coming into second year, I knew how great Cam’s Kids was but seeing the toll COVID had taken on students’ mental health, I really wanted to be a part of what Cam’s Kids was doing to help.”
In the meantime, Amelia wasn’t immune to her own stress and anxiousness.
“As a university student, feelings of anxiety, nerves, stress and pressure are something that is difficult to avoid,” she says.
“I finished Grade 12 online, and then my full first year (of university) was online, so there was a feeling that I missing out on things. I missed out on prom; I missed out on residence and getting to meet new people. But I recognized that everyone was missing out. Still, it led to feelings of isolation and loneliness trying to navigate all that.”
Since ratified, the McMaster Cam’s Kids club is in a much better place.
“It (ratification) has provided more opportunity for students to hear about Cam’s Kids,” she says.
“We’re able to attend more events and do promotions. We’ve been able to recruit a lot of people, and a lot of people who are not from Uxbridge, which is special.”
“Seeing a bunch of university students come together knowing what Cam’s Kids is about and having a passion for mental health awareness is such a cool thing. Everyone is involved for a reason. People aren’t just joining this club to add it to there resumé. They care. That creates an environment for a sense of community and supportiveness within the club itself.”
Noting “It’s cool to see Cam’s Kids work in real life,” Amelia says the traditional Candy Canes were distributed to students at exam time – a tried and true way of saying someone cares. For 2023, she says more initiatives are planned, an anchor of that effort being the club’s heightened presence via its own Instagram page where a feature called Meet The Ambassadors has done much to raise awareness of Cam’s Kids while putting faces to the names of those dedicated to helping…and listening.
“People don’t realize how much just listening can do for a person,” says Amelia.
“Sometimes you feel like you need to come up with a plan of how to approach a problem or how to help someone but just listening, and supporting, and encouraging someone can make such a difference. Being able to provide people with more resources, recognizing you might not necessarily be the person who can help them, is important too.”
Not unlike countless other Cam’s Kids Ambassadors, Amelia has nothing but admiration for the Hicks' family and them starting the foundation, and growing its presence coast to coast over the years since.
“That speaks a lot to their family and the impact that Cam had. It grew in Uxbridge because it’s a community. Now it’s so cool to see it expanding across Ontario and Canada to all these different universities. That hasn’t happened without hard work from the family.”
In the meantime, Amelia says her involvement in the foundation’s evolution, particularly at McMaster, is an experience that will stay with her forever.
“It has been really cool to be involved (with Cam’s Kids) outside of Uxbridge and see the impact the foundation is having beyond where Cam is from. This (mental health) is something that I’m really passionate about. No matter where I end up, I know there will be some aspect of that in my life.”