It was a beautiful day on Saturday, October 22nd. The sun was shining and it was a lovely break from the heavy downpour we had experienced for the past few days. But there was another shining light coming from a source that was not the sun — the energy coming from students, parents, and guidance counsellors who had all gathered together to attend NT’s first ever Community Wellness Fair.
The first thing you saw when you walked in was the community marketplace in the commons. It was filled with different businesses and products that you would have never even thought could benefit you! The Canadian Mental Health Association was there, and they were handing out booklets that had quizzes to see if you were stressed and if you had an unhealthy personality. Apparently, I’m an unhealthy type-A personality because I push myself too hard, which was kind of discouraging because I thought I had a fairly good grip on myself. Guess I’m checking into CAMH soon! There were also shiatsu massages going on, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to get one. I did however hear that they were incredible.
In the commons there was also the silent auction. I was unable to bid because I had no money on me, but it looked great; a one month Goodlife Fitness membership for only $30, life coaching sessions for only $50, and so many more. Rachel Loo auctioned on a huge basket from Red Mulberry, a natural health store, with an array of deliciously organic food. Don’t be too grossed out, but she did let me try one, actually a few, of Red Mulberry’s quinoa chocolate chip cookies and they were surprisingly scrumptious! Who knew healthy food could taste so good?
One of the speakers, Sarah Grossman, a nutritional practitioner, also made me aware that healthy foods don’t always have to taste gross. Her speciality is making your favourite calorie consuming food into something wholesome but still with that old burst of flavour that you love so much.
In the Journey Dance segment, facilitated by Harlene Wejis, energy was key. She began by putting on upbeat music that already made you want to dance. Soon enough, she was bopping up and down, flailing her hands in the air. It was kind of awkward at first, but as you started to do it with her, you realized how fun it was! Journey dancing was almost like being a little kid again; you danced like no one was watching and nobody judged you for it.
After that I went to two talks – one about managing stress and the other about cross-cultural approaches to mental health. The managing stress segment was helpful, but almost common knowledge. For example, Jodi Marco, the speaker and our school psychologist, told us to get lots of rest, which I would think that the majority of us already know is a way to feel more relaxed. However, the session was very useful for parents because it taught them how to recognize the signs of stress and how to treat them. In the cross-cultural approaches to mental health talk, the speaker, Gulshan Allibhai, explained to us how different cultures deal with mental health issues quite differently. In most languages, there isn’t even a word for depression; it’s merely expressed as sadness. Allibhai had some interesting information to offer but I felt like the lecture was aimed more at guidance counsellors, to give them a better understanding of how to help a student cope with stress.
There were also yoga and pilates classes offered so I didn’t have to beat myself up about skipping the gym that day. Pilates really worked my abs, whereas yoga helped me stretch my whole body out. Just a tip: you may think these two forms of exercise won’t make you sore the next day, but, oh, they do.
Meditation was definitely the best saved for last. After a long, hectic day of running around going to workshops and lectures, I finally got to just lie down and sleep. It wasn’t like a normal rest, though. When you sleep through a meditation, you feel much calmer, even though you’re sleeping on the floor of the drama room on a dirty mat from the gym.
Overall, the first Community Wellness Day was a hit with the community and school. And why wouldn’t it have been? We had interesting speakers, fun activities and an array of products and services available, all for just $5-$10. So next time you think that you don’t want to waste your Saturday afternoon at a wellness event, just remember that you get to sleep, eat and relax, and what could be better than that?