Hey all! Again, a very busy week for me, mostly because of a new club I’m involved in–Active Minds.
Active Minds is a national organization devoted to raising awareness of mental health issues on college campuses and removing the stigma associate with mental illness. In the fall, I met a few people who were interested in starting a chapter, and, thinking it sounded pretty cool, I decided to volunteer to help them out. It’s been a long process, but Active Minds was finally confirmed by ASWC about two weeks ago, and we’ve been running around planning and organizing ever since.
We decided our first event should be National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, as eating disorders are extremely common on college campuses. It also coincided with our official recognition quite nicely, as we had just enough time to plan preliminary events before the week was upon us. We ended up taking a multi-pronged approach. First, we started with the simple stuff: setting up a table in Reid Campus Center. All this week at lunch Active Minds members have displayed a PowerPoint about eating disorders, a posterboard with myths and facts about eating disorders, and an interactive display that invited random passerby to write one thing they like about their body on a sticky note and add it to our display. We also handed out brochures with facts about eating disorders and buttons! The buttons were extremely fun and easy to make–ASWC has a button-maker that clubs can rent out. My favorite of the four buttons has the simple message, “When we change ‘I’ to ‘we,’ even ‘illness’ becomes ‘wellness.’” It’s pretty cool.
The next task we took on was spreading positive messages around campus. Many of these had to do with body image in spirit of NEDA Week, but some were just plain-old feel-good self-affirmations. As a club, we gathered together and wrote them on sticky notes, which we then put up in bathrooms and hallways all over campus. A tip: this is a really easy and effective way to make anyone’s day a little brighter!
Our next task was to spread the word about Active Minds itself. Since we were recognized after this semester’s big club fair, it’s a little more difficult to find new members. For this, we again turned to ASWC, this time for funding to print new Active Minds posters. This was a much stricter process, as we had to submit a formal budget request and attend a Finance Committee meeting to make the request in person. I was expecting it to be pretty scary, but it wasn’t–which is the great thing about student government. I felt like our request was actually listened to, and we got enough money to print posters and get the word out!
So, moral of the story: Whitman is a great place to start a club, run a club, and join a club. Hooray!