Last fall, a partnership was formed between two Library Ambassadors, University of Waterloo Health Services and the Dr. Bird project. That partnership formed a wellness initiative that lead to a featured spot at the University's annual staff conference.
The Library Ambassadors program seeks to employ students to engage their peers with the Library and its services, while developing employable skills through events, project work and mentorship. A feature of this program is a term project, which the Ambassadors propose, plan and facilitate on their own. For Rabia Gill and Breanna Middleton, that project was the B Mindful Challenge, in collaboration with Dr. Mitch Abrams, radiologist and founder of the Dr. Bird Project.
When asked what inspired them to pursue the B Mindful Challenge as a term project, Library Ambassador Rabia Gill said,
We wanted to create a fun project that gave students an opportunity to de-stress during exam time. The B Mindful Challenge encouraged students to learn about mindfulness through art, and also provided an opportunity to spread kindness and positivity to patients who are also having a difficult time. Through this project, we were able to bring University of Waterloo and the community together through kindness.
Pencil crayons and cards with mandalas emblazoned on the front were provided to students at all Library locations during the fall exam period. Students were invited to colour the cards as a means of encouraging mindfulness and relieving stress during an intense time of year. They were also given the opportunity to include positive messages inside the cards that were then sent off to patients at Cambridge Memorial Hospital (CMH). Even President Hamdullahpur dropped by to colour a card, which included the message: "Life brings many joys and challenges in front of us — be it the stress of exams or recovery from illness. Our mind and heart are the two most powerful helpers to let us cope with it. Especially, when we are fortunate to benefit from the beauty and power of the others' minds and hearts — knowing somebody else cares."
While the project began as a simple and fun way to promote mindfulness, and mental and physical health during exam time, the success grew it into something much bigger. Last week, the Ambassadors, Dr. Abrams and program lead Mary Lynne Bartlett presented two lively and engaging sessions at the annual Organizational and Human Development (OHD) Staff conference, called Neuroscience 101: Flex your brain with colour.
Throughout the session, attendees coloured mandala cards for CMH patients while Dr. Abrams and his colleague, Linda Gregorio, talked about mindfulness and its impact on mental and physical health. Bartlett went on to describe the Library Ambassadors program and the impact it has had on the Library’s outreach and engagement activities, and Gill and Middleton described their experiences planning and executing their term project. The sessions were enthusiastically received; if you missed them, have a look at this image capture by Brilliance Mastery:
For Library Ambassador program lead, Mary Lynne Bartlett, presenting at the OHD Staff conference meant realising a long-time goal:
"Presenting at the Staff Conference has been a goal of mine for a few years. I really enjoyed being able to present on a topic that I am very passionate about (Library Ambassadors) and it was a nice way to end the first year of the program.
It has been a great experience coaching and mentoring Rabia and Brenna as Ambassadors, but also in preparation for the conference. I am extremely proud of both of them - they put a lot of effort and heart into this project and the presentation. It was a great experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat."
Stop by one of the Library locations this week to take a break, relieve some stress and give those positive feelings back to others in our community!