The OWLs have landed
New student team connects peers to wellness wisdom
SAIT's Student Development and Counselling office has recruited a team of Outreach and Wellness Leaders (OWLs) to help promote positive student well-being and mental health across campus.
The OWLs — all current SAIT students — have been tasked with increasing awareness and understanding of wellness support services for students from a peer perspective.
"We're excited to pilot the OWLs program on campus," says Gina Marandola, Mental Health Promotion Specialist, Student Development and Counselling, Learner and Academic Services. "This is a great opportunity for students to share their experiences and learn about supports that can help them thrive at SAIT."
Chief among official OWL duties is participating in campus-wide wellness activities and initiatives including First8 and Own Your Midterms — expect to see students manning booths and wading into crowds armed with smiles and smiley face stress balls.
"It's important to promote all the resources SAIT has for us," says Benigno Estrada, Power Engineering Technology student and OWL. "I've been talking to students about the doctors and dental services on campus — several classmates didn't know about them. I also like to share my experiences," he says.
Here to help
The OWLs will serve throughout the academic year and will spread the word — and lend an ear — about everything from academic supports and general wellness tips to online self-help tools, cannabis myth busting and stress management.
"I came to Calgary from South Korea — I was so excited to study abroad," says Suin Hwang, Business Administration student and OWL. "I had some difficulties academically and personally and they made me feel isolated. Through these experiences, I found out how important wellness and health are. Now I want to support other students — to let them know they can overcome too."
Diksha Thakur, a Civil Engineering Technologies student and OWL, has plenty of experience helping others from her time as a volunteer with SAITSA's Peer Support Centre.
"Sometimes knowing everyone goes through tough times just helps," she says. "If you have the power to push through and can help someone else, I think that's just being a good person — and that's good for the SAIT community."
In addition to some personal and professional development, the OWLs are looking forward to connecting their peers to useful resource information — and to connecting with their peers.
"When there's a table or an information booth, so many students just walk by," says Afshan Dharani, Administrative Information Management student and OWL. "They might acknowledge there's something going on but they're shy. I want everyone to come to the table. I want people to know we're easy to talk to. Come speak with us - that's how you learn."
"I want to help give people more courage," says Thakur. "To let them know it's okay to be you — just be you and be good at it."
Work on managing your stress at Student Development and Counselling's Stress Less workshop series, Wednesdays from 5 to 6 pm in MB228, Stan Grad Centre. Upcoming workshops:
- Nov. 21 - Relaxation Tips and Tricks
- Nov. 28 - Improving Your Sleep