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York University to welcome 600 YRDSB students for mental-health conference

TORONTO, April 22, 2014 – York University is pleased to be partnering with the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) to host Descrambled, a full-day event focusing on youth and mental health awareness that will take place at York U’s Keele campus on Monday, April 28.

While there has been a welcome increase in open dialogue surrounding mental illness, little is still known about the scope of mental health and its daily effects on those living with it. The Descrambled event at York will bring together over 600 students from across YRDSB to learn more about mental health through interactive workshops and a special drama presentation written and performed by students from Maple High School in York Region.

The initiative is the culmination of months of work by the students and staff of Maple High. Their goal was to develop an event to foster a deeper understanding of mental health, and an awakened empathy for those affected. They are hoping their fellow YRDSB students will take their learnings from the Descrambled event back to their own schools and use that as a catalyst for mental health awareness work in their communities.

This innovative approach aims to encourage dialogue amongst students surrounding mental health and well-being. York University experts from the department of Psychology will partner with YouthSpeak, a youth-focused organization that provides a forum to experience the personal stories of youth resilience and courage which can inspire a strong message of respect, hope, tolerance and positive change, for workshops which focus on open and meaningful discussion about mental health.

A cornerstone of the day’s events is the drama presentation To the Moon and Back, written and performed by students from Maple High School – a fully student-led initiative, the compilation of narrative scenes is a compelling and unique glimpse into youth perspectives on mental health that draws on personal experience as a way of encouraging dialogue among their peers and removing the stigma that still surrounds mental illness.

Global News weekend anchor Crystal Goomansingh will deliver the keynote address. Goomansingh began her broadcast career in radio more than a decade ago before making the jump to television broadcasting and has held a number of positions, including video journalist, host and reporter. She joined the Global Toronto news team last year as weekend anchor and reporter.

The mission of the Descrambled conference is to provide a forum for students to share ideas in a format where reliable and appropriate information can be readily accessed, and to provide resources through the support of community agencies, schools, teachers and accredited professionals.

“We at York understand that the preparation for transition from high school to post-secondary education and adult life can be a stressful one involving significant life choices,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “York University is committed to creating a healthy, inclusive and supportive learning environment and an organizational culture that enhances health and well-being and allows our students to achieve their fullest potential. We welcome this important partnership with YRDSB and hope the conference encourages youth to increase the volume and frequency of conversations about mental health in our communities.”

“York Region District School Board is strongly committed to improving mental health and well-being for both students and staff,” said Anna DeBartolo, York Region District School Board Chair. “We are incredibly proud of the efforts of our students from Maple High School and their outstanding partnership with York University in this groundbreaking student-created and led mental-health conference. It is our hope that students will develop positive self-images and embrace the differences that make our school communities such amazing and diverse places.”

WHAT: Descrambled: A Mental Health Awareness Event

WHEN: Monday, April 28, 2014 (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

WHERE:  Drama performance: Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre, Accolade East, York University (Building 92 on the mapWorkshops: Vari Hall, York U (Building 30 on the map)

York University is helping to shape the global thinkers and thinking that will define tomorrow. York’s unwavering commitment to excellence reflects a rich diversity of perspectives and a strong sense of social responsibility that sets us apart. A York U degree empowers graduates to thrive in the world and achieve their life goals through a rigorous academic foundation balanced by real-world experiential education. As a globally recognized research centre, York is fully engaged in the critical discussions that lead to innovative solutions to the most pressing local and global social challenges. York’s 11 faculties and 27 research centres are thinking bigger, broader and more globally, partnering with 288 leading universities worldwide. York's community is strong − 55,000 students, 7,000 faculty and staff, and more than 250,000 alumni.

York Region District School Board is the third largest school district in Ontario with over 121,000 students in 171 elementary schools and 31 secondary schools. York Region students consistently perform above average in provincial testing and the Board is one of the top achievers in Ontario. For more information about the York Region District School Board, please visit our website: www.yrdsb.ca and follow us on Twitter: @YRDSB.

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Media Contacts: Tabassum Siddiqui, Media Relations, York University, 416-736-2100 ext. 44543, tsiddiq@yorku.ca

Christina Choo-Hum, Public Affairs & Communications, York Region District School Board, 905-727-0022 ext. 2527, christina.choo-hum@yrdsb.ca