Students become agents of change in health to help others

Three student-led projects have been chosen as part of the Faculty of Health’s new co-curricular pilot project – Agents of Change – to help others lead healthier lives.

Choosing a Healthier Me Club (CHMC), Autism Teen Group & Social Cohesion and Positivity-Pass it On (PePon) will receive seed funding from the Faculty to help with initial startup costs. The students will be required to raise any additional funds they’ll need through efforts such as crowd sourcing.

Agents of Change students work on their project

Agents of Change students work on their project

The goal of Agents of Change is to help students develop skills to transform ideas and change policies, systems, structures and practices of health in their environments.

“The project is a key component of our overall Agents of Change programming, which includes curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities for students in health to develop attributes of an Agent of Change through their time at York,” says Lesley Beagrie, co-chair of the Mental Health Steering Group and interim master of Stong College.

The three projects were part of an Agents of Change day where students had to pitch their ideas through a short presentation or “elevator speech” on why their project was viable and why people should care. Members of other teams analyzed the presentations and offered suggestions to improve them. The students had to create full proposals, including action plans and budgets.

John Bromley, CEO of chimp.net, was also on hand to talk about how they can get their projects off the ground. Chimp.net is an online, cause-neutral tool that empowers people and organizations to more easily access and participate in charity, no matter what cause they care about.

The Agents of Change initiatives could cover a broad range of categories, including physical, mental and sexual health or any of the social determinants of health. As Christopher Mallon, experiential education coordinator says, “It’s a great opportunity for students to follow their passion.”

John Bromley works with Faculty of Health students to refine their project

John Bromley works with Faculty of Health students to refine their project

Choosing a Healthier Me Club (CHMC) is designed to help students choose a healthier lifestyle despite the stress of studying, and to develop the necessary skills and abilities to create a positive impact in the world of health. CHMC executives plan to provide physical activity classes, such as yoga and aerobics, this summer as well as workshops dealing with different aspects of health as it relates to students.

The CHMC executive also hope to implement a media competition where members will create poster, videos, drawings and photos that will be used to promote health around York University.

PPON executives are hoping to foster more social cohesion on York’s Keele campus by distributing 2,000 PPON bracelets. The caveat is that each person who gives a bracelet to someone else must first compliment them. The bracelets will come with information packages. According to research, a kind word can go a long way.

The Autism Teen Group & Social Cohesion project will host a bi-weekly, two-hour summer program for teens with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to help establish and foster social nets and relationships outside of school and home. The teen night program will be a place where teens with ASD can improve their social skills, meet new friends and have fun.

The selected projects will be completed over the summer and will culminate in an Agents of Change awards ceremony in the fall. As part of this programming, the new course "Agents of Change in a Global World” was piloted in 2013-14 and will be an integral curricular addition to the new Global Health Program commencing in September.

Agents of Change Students

Agents of Change students

The Agents of Change Projects are funded through the Frostad Agents of Change Fund, which supports Faculty of Health undergraduate students either individually or in teams as they develop the key attributes to be an Agent of Change – knowing, doing and being. It also strives to enhance overall student success by providing students with the opportunity to gain real-world experience. It will fund up to 20 projects a year to the tune of $500 each and aims to have a lasting impact on the students and the community.

For more information, visit the Experiential Education in Health Agents of Change Projects website and the Agents of Change website.