Officials with Western University are applauding a $1 million donation to it’s new Wellness Education Centre from the Fairmount Foundation.
The announcement was made Monday morning at the Centre in the lower level of the University Community Centre on campus, which officials describe as a ‘one stop shop’ for students and others seeking mental health and wellness resources and programming, nutrition information and advice, and sexual violence prevention education and survivors’ support.
Over 700 students have visited the WEC since January, and Wellness Coordinator Melanie-Anne Atkins tells AM980 the Centre operates on a “no wrong door” policy where everyone’s questions are answered.
“What we find is sometimes, for example when I was a graduate student, I thought I was stressed in general, but what I realized is that I actually needed help with writing, and that was the thing that was making me stressed out,” said Atkins. “So when students have the actual ability to speak to someone who is knowledgeable about the various resources that Western offers, we can provide a better match to what students are looking for, even when they’re not at first maybe aware that that might be the thing that’s causing them stress.”
Atkins is responsible for creating and facilitating mental health training and workshops, and a team of up to 15 extensively trained students, staff members and volunteers.
“What I like to say is, even for faculty and staff when they’re talking about where students can go for help, I say you no longer have to memorize ten different services that are available, just send them to us, we’d love to talk to you,” said Atkins.
The Fairmount Foundation was started by a Western grad and supports charitable initiatives.
“It is my hope, with this gift, to directly impact the lives of Western’s students in a positive manner. I want all Western students to feel like they are a part of this community, and to feel as though they have had lots of opportunities for personal and academic growth,” said Heidi Balsillie, Founder of the Fairmount Foundation, in a media release.
The donation will not only keep the Centre open, but support an annual lecture series and establish a new bursary to provide financially-challenged students with the opportunity to study abroad.
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