Principal Rob House signs the Stigma Free pledge banner at Spectrum Community School on Wednesday. The Spectrum Philanthropy Club has planned a monthly schedule of awareness campaigns to break down different stigmas, such as mental health and religion. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Club wants Spectrum to be first stigma-free school on the Island

Earning the designation as a stigma free zone takes a year, worth it, say students

A group of Spectrum Community School students is seeking to make the high school Vancouver Island’s first “stigma-free zone.”

The newly formed Spectrum Philanthropy Club, a group of mostly Grade 12 students, invited Robyn Thomas from the Stigma Free Society to help kick off the initiative last Wednesday morning.

Thomas addressed some 300 Spectrum students in the drama theatre about her own story of mental health, overcoming PTSD, and what can be done to break down certain stigmas including mental health, along with all negative stereotypes, she said.

“We’ll work with the school for the year to help it work towards being a stigma-free zone,” Thomas said. “It’s a process and at the end we’ll designate the school a stigma-free zone.”

Thomas then joined the club in the school’s front foyer during lunch, while the club invited students and staff to sign their giant stigma-free pledge banner. The movement coincides with Spectrum staff’s own initiative, Spec-Respect.

“We formed this group out of our social justice class that was supposed to happen but didn’t have enough people,” said club member Ethan Badr, in Grade 12. “We’ll hold an event every month, I think it’s really important.”

The school population is already a relatively positive group with low rates of homophobia, racism or judgment regarding mental health, Badr said. But the goal is to make being stigma free a part of the school’s ongoing culture. One way they’ll do that is by holding a presentation for all Grade 9s (Spectrum is Grade 9 to 12) at the beginning of each school year, starting in 2018.

For this year, the club has launched a season-long calendar which will identify different stigmas each month.

For example, in December the group will build awareness around religion as the month holds significant meaning in Christianity, Judaism and other beliefs, said Grade 12 Jalen Smith. January will focus on mental health, which picks up on the momentum from Bell’s Let’s Talk Day.

The banner will come out again and will soon be posted in the school, Badr added.

reporter@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Sooke’s Park Watch to cease operation

People not carrying money for donation boxes led to funding shortfalls

Western Speedway racing legend ‘The Flying Plumber’ turns 98

Dave Cooper recalls car crashes, his first win, and more

Second puppy killed by poisonous mushrooms in Victoria

Springer spaniel puppy died after consuming mushrooms in Fairfield neighbourhood

Nuisance tree will remain on perimeter of Fireman’s Park

Council re-affirm pledge to protecting healthy tree canopy

Driver charged in Central Saanich pedestrian’s death appears in court

Victim Kim Ward, 51, died on scene at the August 2018 crash

VIDEO: U.S. officials refute British couple’s ‘accidental’ border-crossing claim

Authorities say couple was arrested after illegal entry from B.C., with $16,000 and marijuana

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

Two RCMP vehicles vandalized in Duncan over long weekend

Local Mounties asking for help in finding culprits

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Tickets available for Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame dinner and induction

Ryan Cochrane, Mike Piechnick and Rob Short among the inductees

Most Read