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High school students in West Kelowna put books down for mental health day

The inititative was led by grade 10 student Delaney Neukomm

Mount Boucherie Secondary School students took the day off from classes on May 30 to talk mental health and enjoy a stress-free day.

Leadership teacher Kevin Low said all the credit for the day goes to a grade 10 student.

“I’ve got to give full credit to Delaney Neukomm who is one of my leadership students. It was her idea to do this giant event,” Low said. “In my class I try all the time to empower my students to try to run events that they want to do and then I support them.”

Neukomm said from her own experience and conversations with friends, she’s learned the importance of speaking out about mental health.

“I’ve been at the school for two years now and I’ve seen an atmosphere at our school that I think we can improve on.” Neukomm noted that many students aren’t aware of the mental health services readily available in the community.

The morning was split into two groups, with one group completing the five kilometre walk while the other listened to a guest speaker.

The event raised funds for Foundry Kelowna, a wellness centre for youth aged 12 to 24. Manager CJ LeBlanc spoke to the students, reminding them of the signs of mental illness, positive habits for improving mental health, and the resources the Foundry offers. Funds were raised mostly through online donations and t-shirt sales. The amount has yet to be tallied.

Through the afternoon students were treated to a small carnival with food trucks, bouncy castles, and games. The Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) and West Kelowna Warriors were also part of the day.

Neukomm said it was a lot of work getting everything ready for the day, but it was well worth it. “I’m only here for two more years, but if I can continue it I would love to.”

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