Emily Evans
Emily Evans
I strongly believe that getting help with your mental health is just as important as getting help with your physical health. I wish it (Cam’s Kids) had been around sooner but our goal for the next few years is to support as many students as we can.

Meet Lakehead Ambassador Emily

There’s still a lot to be said for doing one’s homework. 

Earlier this year, after learning via Facebook of a bid to launch a Cam’s Kids chapter at the Orillia campus of Lakehead University, an intrigued Emily Evans got busy, visiting the Foundation’s website to learn as much as she could about the organization and its core mission.

 

“When I saw that it helps young people with anxiety, I thought it was a great opportunity to meet other people that are also passionate about mental health,” recalls Emily, a Guelph native now entering the third year of her Sociology program.

“I reached out to Paige (Coffey) who made the Facebook post and then had an interview with Vanessa (Morgan). That led to me being the first (Cam’s Kids) Ambassador at Lakehead. Paige and I are now Team Leads.”

“Our first goal was to recruit people we knew and then get them to recruit people they knew…to sort of grow the team by connections. It was sort of like a spider web that kept growing out. Because it was friends reaching out to friends, that made us closer as a team because everyone already had a connection.”

Heading into the new school year, there are now 12 Cam’s Kids Ambassadors at Lakehead – “Pretty great for a such a small school,” assesses Emily, noting the need for the Foundation’s presence at her school was very clear to her right from the get-go. 

“Stigma is such a huge thing in the mental health world, especially amongst students,” she says.

“We (students) don’t have full-time jobs, so people think we’re less stressed out than adults are but in reality, it’s so overwhelming being a student while working a part-time job and managing relationships and a social life. The aspect of supporting each other through all the challenges that come up with being a young adult, that really drew me to it.”

“There aren’t a lot of mental health supports available to students. Having something on campus where students feel they can talk about what they’re struggling with and have others to go through it with them is huge.”

Emily speaks from experience, noting her transition from high school to university life was a challenge. While she chose Lakehead’s Orillia campus because of its small-town feel, she still felt “overwhelmed” on arrival.

“Coming to a new town and meeting new people and having to figure out living on my own…it’s so stressful starting fresh,” she says, adding “Everything changes in the blink of an eye and you’re left to deal with it all while keeping up your grades. It’s a crazy time.” 

But Emily adapted and now, through her Cam’s Kids involvement, she’s helping others do the same. One big step in that direction saw her and Paige create “a social connection between as many students as we could during the pandemic.”

 

“We created a Google forum and shared it on Lakehead’s and Cam’s Kids’ Instagram pages as well as on Facebook. We connected over 200 students based on their interests, whether it was movies, or a favourite colour or season…just stuff they might have a common interest in. A lot reached out to us to share how great it was to meet someone new, especially first year students who met someone new before they even arrived on campus.”

At the root of that effort to connect as many people as possible was a simple message: You’re not going through the adjustment to university life alone.

“It’s really about letting students know that what they’re going through is normal and that it’s okay to struggle with their mental health as a result. Also helping connect them to resources; being a bridge to services that can help them long-term. There isn’t one cure for everything that people go through so helping people find what works for them is so important.”

Moving forward, Emily is excited at the prospect of a return to some normalcy on campus, and what that means for Cam’s Kids’ presence and influence.     

“It’ll be nice to see people’s faces and interact in a different capacity,” she says.

“We’re still going to have some virtual things going on - we’re actually going to start a podcast - but we’ll hopefully also be able to run outdoor events on campus. I teach a little yoga in my spare time, so maybe an outdoor yoga event or fun stuff like that to get people connected.”

“I strongly believe that getting help with your mental health is just as important as getting help with your physical health. I wish it (Cam’s Kids) had been around sooner but our goal for the next few years is to grow it as much as we can and connect with, and support, as many students as we can.”

Asked her thoughts on the national Foundation that the Hicks family launched and since grown, Emily says “It’s hard to put into words.” That said, she offers two – impressive and incredible

“This has honestly been the most rewarding experience I’ve had in university so far…I’m so thankful,” she says, noting that there’s one more objective on her and Paige’s radar.

“We want to make sure Cam’s Kids continues on here after we’re both gone. It’s too important, too needed, to not be here.”

Powered by Innovasium