As Cam’s Kids continues to grow its footprint at Peterborough’s Trent University over the next few years, bet on Joshua Kelly being a major player in that process.
A native of Port Perry, Ontario, the Business Administration student acquainted himself with the Cam’s Kids team at Trent on his arrival in September 2019. However, his first exposure to the organization came earlier while he was working with Precious Minds, a support service for young adults with developmental challenges.
“One of my co-workers brought Cam’s Kids into play, so I looked into it,” recalls Josh.
“Familiarizing myself with the story of the organization, I knew it was a great platform I could be a part of. I emailed Vanessa (Cam’s Kids National Coordinator Vanessa Morgan), did the interview and joined in September.”
Alongside Sarah Mosher, Josh assumed a co-Team Lead role with Cam’s Kids. His motivation to grow the foundation’s presence at Trent anchored in his belief that people’s mental health deserves much more attention than it has been granted.
“I’m a strength and conditioning coach at a facility in Whitby,” notes Josh.
“I’ve had clients come to me and say ‘Sorry I missed out last Friday’ and then they would talk about these (mental health) disorders they’re going through. As a coach, you’re prepared to help prevent physical injuries but when it comes to the mental side, there’s really no prep for that.”
“When you come face to face with that, when someone says ‘I’m not doing well’ and you know it’s not physical, you ask yourself how can I further educate myself? How can I be better in those situations for others?’”
And so, Josh rolled up his sleeves and got busy with Cam’s Kids at Trent, doing what he could to ensure the Foundation’s presence grew via a series of initiatives. One main initiative Josh coordinated, along with another Ambassador at Ontario Tech University, was the safeTALK workshop for Cam’s Kids. OTU and Trent worked together to ensure their teams had the opportunity to become suicide alert certified. He also helped establish the ‘What Makes You Happy Wall’ in the university’s Student Centre.
“Going into exams we thought ‘What can we do to cheer people up?’” says Joshua.
“We wrote ‘What Makes You Happy’? on the chalk wall. We left sticky notes, we left chalk, and it was filled in a few days. There were some really positive and uplifting messages on the wall. For how easy it was to do, it was awesome.”
In addition, Josh took the lead on Cam’s Kids entry in the Relay For Life cancer research and support fundraising event – the team raised more than $2,600 to come out on top of all other teams.
Also, as an answer to the heightened anxiety and stress caused by the COVID-19 lockdown, he initiated Workout Wednesday that sees him and another Ambassador host a one-hour workout each Wednesday that’s broadcast on Cam’s Kids Instagram Live platform.
“It’s a great distraction where the news and your phone is turned off and you can follow along…we’ll keep it going as long as this (the pandemic lockdown) goes,” says Josh, who also arranged for Zumba to be broadcast on the same platform each Monday, led by a Port Perry friend who has her own Zumba business.
“All this doesn’t feel like work because, at the end of the day, you’re helping someone who needs help…someone looking for conversation or a boost,” says Josh.
“Growing up in a small town, this (mental health) wasn’t something people talked about. Finding Cam’s Kids has made me a lot more aware of when people might not be doing so well.”
Written by: Paul Rellinger