Niagara College’s Health, Wellness and Accessibility Services has partnered with the college’s Student Administrative Council and Wise Guys Charity Fund to spark supportive conversations between students and their peers around the ups and downs of life on campus.
Launching later this month, the College’s new Peer Wellness Program will provide opportunities for students to engage with trained Wellness Peers in relaxed, supportive conversations around common student challenges and wellness concerns, such as loneliness and stress. Wellness Peers are student staff who are trained to provide active listening, empathy, peer support, and campus and community referrals. The program will provide 10 hours per week of drop-in support at each campus.
The program will be delivered in NCSAC’s renovated Wellness Lounges at both campuses. The Lounges, formerly activity rooms, have been updated with comfortable furniture and décor meant to create a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere for students.
The College celebrated the launch of the program, as well as the opening of the new Wellness Lounges, at a special open house at the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake on February 18. The open house allowed the college community to meet some of the new wellness peers, learn more about the program and the new spaces, and experience the Indigenous drumming of Natalie Blueraven, one of the wellness peers.
“Niagara College prides itself on its reputation as a welcoming college that is passionate about creating a positive student life experience, and the Peer Wellness Program is an important addition to the suite of services that support the physical, mental and emotional well-being of all its students,” said Steve Hudson, Niagara College senior vice-president, Academic and Learner Services.
Funding for the two-year pilot program was generously provided through a $38,000 contribution from Wise Guys Charity Fund, and a $40,000 contribution from the Niagara College Student Administrative Council (NCSAC).
“The Wise Guys Charity Fund is thrilled to be able to support Niagara College and their new Peer Wellness Program,” said Doug Smith, president of C.R. Smith Financial Services Inc. and chair of Wise Guys Charity Fund. “Knowing that students will have the opportunity to engage with trained peers around challenges such as wellness, loneliness and stress is fantastic. We can only hope the success of this program helps encourage other institutions to launch similar programs in the future.”
The NCSAC Board of Directors saw the need and importance of connecting students with fellow students at a grass roots peer support level, said NCSAC president Tom Price. “Often students just need someone to talk to, or a self-care activity to address their sliding scale of health and wellness. As a student association, it is NCSAC’s desire to provide grass roots advocacy, and we recognize the positive impact of connecting students with their peers. The Peer Wellness program is designed to do exactly that, and to also refer students to the appropriate college supports, such as counselling when needed.”
“This endeavour would not have been possible without the generous donation from Wise Guys, and NCSAC would like to thank Wise Guys for supporting the Niagara College student population,” added Price.
The Peer Wellness program is supervised by a mental health clinician, and complements a suite of programs and services offered by Niagara College’s Health, Wellness and Accessibility Services department that serve the diverse wellness needs of NC students.
A second open-house will also be held at the Wellness Lounge at the College’s Welland Campus on Thursday, February 20, from 10:30 a.m. – noon.
Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit niagaracollege.ca.
The Wise Guys Charity Fund is a 100% volunteer-driven organization that raises money in Niagara for Niagara. We fulfill grant requests on an annual basis for capital projects and programs and are now in our 30th year. Last year Wise Guys Charity Fund raised and rolled back just under $400,000 and supported 23 different organizations in Niagara. The charity has raised and rolled back over $3.9 million in the past 29 years.
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