Grade 12 student Katilyn Gordon (left), and teachers Nora Havelaar and Tom Gordon hold up a banner signed by students to be stigma free. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria’s Spectrum Community School celebrates one year stigma-free

The school was the first in Victoria to align with the Stigma Free Society

Staff and students at Spectrum Community School are celebrating their first year being stigma-free.

The school was the first in Victoria to align with the Stigma Free Society of Victoria, switching their philosophy club to a stigma-free club to ensure students felt safe and welcome.

“Part of the reason we decided to do that is we really wanted to tackle questions about mental health and addiction and talk to kids about how to reduce stigma, and how to make Spectrum a more welcoming place,” said Nora Havelaar, French and English teacher and co-sponsor of the club.

READ MORE: Club wants Spectrum to be first stigma-free school on the Island

In the first year of their campaign, the club focused on one theme per month, including religion, mental health, sexuality and PTSD to help educate students on what exactly stigma means.

For grade 12 student and stigma-free club member Kaitlyn Gordon, the club was something Spectrum needed.

“I’ve had people come up to me in the school and recognize me as a friendly face so I’ve helped a lot of people out,” Gordon said. “I know a lot of people feel very insecure with themselves because they feel depressed one day and don’t want to talk to their friends about it, and we really want to say it’s okay, it’s normal.”

This year the club has larger goals they want to accomplish, including establishing a mental health panel, sending students to a multi-school mental health summit at the end of October, and hosting a variety show at the end of the year so students can feel confident in showing off their talents.

READ MORE: Victoria partners on ‘Stigma-Free Zone’ event tonight

But for the first month, it’s all about reminding students the club is there.

“It’s something big to look up to, so the students have been told this is who we are, this is what we stand for,” said Tom Gordon, English and Japanese teacher and club co-sponsor. “As part of our welcome back barbecue we’ve made a new banner and will hang it up in a visible place for everyone to see.”

The club will also try to reach out to Grade 9 and 10 students as possible club members when they might be feeling the most vulnerable.

Kaitlyn Gordon said the club would have been a helpful tool when she started high school.

“Being someone who is very quiet I found everybody above me very intimidating,” Gordon said. “I think if there’d been a group with a bunch of different ages, and you could go somewhere and just feel comfortable and just be yourself and working together. I think that’s really important and I really would have enjoyed that.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Thousands raised for cancer at second annual Gala for Hope

Victoria Fire Department’s fundraiser a success ahead of Ride to Conquer Cancer

Crews respond to near drowning at Thetis Lake

Man taken to hospital after calls come in of drowning in progress

Vet services for Victoria’s pets of the homeless cancelled for first time in a decade

Vets for Pets faces a volunteer shortage that’s forced the group to cancel its recent service

Wooldog among mysteries uncovered with powerful UVic microscope

Finding ‘Mutton,’ a dog lost in a Smithsonian drawer for 150 years

Optometrist pedals through depression, leads others for the cause

Ride Don’t Hide bike rides start, end at Windsor Park

Victoria Weekender: What’s happening this weekend, June 15-16

Car Free YYJ, a barber battle and an Outdoor Discovery Day

Homalco tour gives glimpse into area’s ‘People, Land, Water’

First Nation business mixes cultural components with wildlife excursions

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Monkey spotted on late-night jaunt in Campbell River

Conservation officers also apparently looking for cougar in the area

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

Most Read