October 2, 2016 6:10 pm

Edmonton activist speaks to Will and Kate about mental health in Victoria

WATCH ABOVE: The royals take a boat ride on tall ship Pacific Grace on Oct. 1, 2016. Prince William is impressed by the beards of crew members

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A youth mental health advocate from the University of Alberta says she was thrilled to get the chance to talk to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge over the weekend about the issue she’s so passionate about.

Nancy Zhao is the president of the University of Alberta chapter of jack.org, a Toronto-based non-profit that looks to raise awareness of and fight the stigma connected to mental health.

“It was an amazing experience to be able to share with the royal couple what jack.org is and also what the jack chapter here at the University of Alberta does on a daily basis,” Zhao told Global News Sunday.


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On Saturday, Zhao and 18 other youth leaders with her organization were joined on a ship by Prince William and Kate where they set sail for an hour and spoke about the issue of mental health and young people.

READ MORE: Royal Visit 2016 Day 8: Will and Kate end tour in Victoria, B.C.

“When it was my opportunity to speak with the Duke and Duchess, I shared with them the local summit that our jack chapter hosted earlier this year which brought together 200 youths in Edmonton,” Zhao said, adding she also told them about professional services and peer support services offered through the university.

But the experience was no mere pleasure cruise for the youth leaders or the royal couple, everyone was expected to help get the ship moving.

“They helped us to pull the ropes, to hoist the sails up and at the very end, they helped us put them up as well,” Zhao explained, adding her group was very excited to be able to discuss their work with the couple and also just to see them as well.

“Right before they got on the ship – it was actually quite a chilly day in Victoria – everyone was huddled together really cold, but I think as we caught that first glimpse of them walking towards the ship, all of that coldness and nervousness disappeared.”

Saturday marked the last day of the royal couple’s 2016 visit to Canada. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also brought their children on the trip.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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