The students at Sheldon-Williams Collegiate in Regina are pulling an all-nighter.
Their fourth annual Awake-A-Thon kicked off at 8 a.m. Friday and has already raised more than $15,000. The money raised will go to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Regina branch.
“We wanted to do something with mental health as we saw it was pretty important to students,” said leadership student Sam Totten. “We wanted to choose something local but also more broad. We saw that Canadian Mental Health had a local branch but they’re also all across Canada so we wanted to support them.”
Students collected money as individuals and teams. They’ll take part in a variety of activities, from video games to a poetry slam, as they try to stay awake for 24 hours straight.
In the past, the fundraiser has supported research into the causes of domestic violence and helped refugees in Regina learn English. Part of the inspiration to make mental health this year’s theme came from a school survey done last year. Sheldon Williams Collegiate students listed mental health as an important issue to them.
“We decided to do two things this year. One is the Awake-A-Thon, the other is a mental wellness fair on May 30th,” said leadership teacher Tara Quine. “The teenage years are a mixture of being a kid but also worrying about the pressures of adulthood.
“Kids have jobs, they have to worry about grades, their relationships and families. They also have to worry about social media. So I think there’s a lot of pressure on young people today.”
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CMHA Regina Director of Community Engagement Shannon Patton was on hand Friday to take in the Awake-A-Thon
“We are extremely honoured and very appreciative that Sheldon Williams Collegiate’s fourth annual Awake-A-Thon chose the CMHA Regina branch as this year’s charitable recipient,” said Patton. “It is so awesome that these students are talking about mental health, supporting each other and supporting their community.”
Patton also helped unveil an Awareness Bench in the school’s hallways.
CMHA Regina has installed benches around the city. The benches are meant to be a safe place where people can relax and unwind if they’re experiencing stress or mental health issues. CMHA Regina raised money for the bench through their Punchline Comedy Night fundraiser.