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  • Writer's pictureAllie

NAIT offers new way to say “thanks”

NAIT’s mental health program has created a new initiative called “well-being champion” (WBC) that allows students and staff to acknowledge an instructor or peer for outstanding well-being behaviour. Mental Health Program Coordinator, Rosie Colangelo, believes this initiative will bring people together.


“This program was created for establishing that sense of community between staff and students and different stakeholders and community members at NAIT,” said Colangelo.


To express gratitude, students and staff can recognize their peer’s actions by immediately speaking with them which can be meaningful and have a positive impact on their day, especially if it’s a stranger.


“Gratitude can happen very organically- you can just say ‘thank you,’” said Colangelo.


In cases where verbal praise isn’t an option, NAIT’s mental health team created a website that facilitates the process by sending the champion an email. The email contains information on the specific dimension(s) of well-being they were demonstrating, a personal note written by the sender, information on where they can pick up their token and a link to the website so they can see details about the selected dimension(s) and may nominate someone else.


“For two years of not having that opportunity to see people and make those connections, this is a platform to do that in a positive way so that students and staff are encouraged to, first of all, recognize that there’s something good happening around them, and then actually say something to the person or give them that bit of gratitude.”


The WBC website defines eight dimensions of well-being for students and staff to choose from when sending a personalized e-card: spiritual, occupational, physical, emotional, social & cultural, environmental, intellectual and financial.


“[These dimensions are] what we need to support ourselves to feel holistically well. One activity can provide support for a multitude of different dimensions and that’s something that we really want to capture and recognize in people, especially if they’re doing that for others,” said Colangelo.


The website also offers the option of anonymity which fosters more users who can speak without fear of embarrassment if confronted. Safety precautions have been taken– the website requires a NAIT Portal sign-in so the mental health team will know the sender’s name in case of harmful speech within the e-card. This also allows for further development of the system.


“We want to know if maybe there’s a certain dimension of well-being that people never mention … and we need to [offer] some additional services that help students support this dimension because it’s not something that’s coming up often. It’s a good way to inform on what we’re doing and what we may be missing.”


A token of well-being is rewarded to all nominated champions, whether in-person or online. Two tokens are given– one for the champion and one to encourage paying it forward. These tokens can be found in the Fitness Weight Centre (S0006) and the NAITSA Service Hub (O108). Along with the tokens, there are blank well-being champion cards for the option of an in-person recognition later.


Well-being at NAIT has always been a priority. Colangelo says there has always been a need for community-led initiatives: “there is so much value to be had in connecting community members in a positive way, so this is a platform that was developed over time.” She hopes to continue expanding the WBC program to keep pace with individuals’ and campus growth.

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