A non-swimmer is about to enter the pool. Do you hand them a lifejacket first or toss them a flotation ring once you see them going under?
The traditional approach to youth mental health has been the rescue ring, says third-year student Lena Schreyer. But Western’s new Parr Centre for Thriving will be the lifejacket instead. “Better yet, it will support programs that teach students how to swim,” Schreyer said in August during the announcement of Jeff and Shelley Parr’s $9.2-million gift to establish the centre.
The Parrs’ generosity – which has already leveraged other funding and inspired other donors to support student mental health – exemplifies the relationships and partnerships Western shares with its donors and funders, from alumni to governments and national and international research agencies, whose investments this year show faith in the quality and potential of Western’s people.
They are difference-makers like long-time philanthropists Arthur and Sonia Labatt, who – committed to helping researchers and nurses address the roots of global health inequities during pandemics such as COVID-19 – invested $5-million in the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing.
And they are pace-setters like William and Lynne Gray, whose generous $2.5-million donation to St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation launched a partnership between Western and St. Joseph’s to establish the William and Lynne Gray Research Chair in Mobility & Activity within Western’s Faculty of Health Sciences and the Gray Centre for Mobility and Activity at St. Joseph’s.
They are encouragers like the thousands of alumni who make time to offer students a little uplift with Kind Mail notes at exam time.
They’re ground breakers like the five Social Science and Humanities Research Council projects addressing refugee settlement and the impact of COVID-19 in low-income neighbourhoods.
And they are community builders like the CityStudio students and faculty whose collaborative projects with municipal staff improve the places Londoners live, work and play.
Now that’s how we all swim.
Student Lena Schreyer explains how she has benefited from philanthropists’ generosity, and how she is giving back.