Craft & Chat, a biweekly event on the Algonquin College Perth campus, provides students with an opportunity, in person or online, to engage in a variety of activities, from crafts to games, share their feelings and make friends alongside counsellors.
Caprise Perrineau, Algonquin College Health & Education Promotion Coordinator, ran the event solo on Wednesday, July 20, with two students joining via Zoom to chat and play a game of Pictionary. Both students attend classes on the Woodroffe campus.
“I was interested in this event because I’m an international student, and that comes with lots of challenges. It is overwhelming being in a foreign country,” said Analiza Flores, a PSW student, who joined Craft & Chat for the fourth time. “It’s a lot of fun. I get to talk to people and get advice on my mental health.”
Jules Medeiros is in the Social Service Worker program and was the second person on Zoom. They enjoy this event because it provides them with great hands-on experience for their program.
Typically, Perrineau cohosts Craft & Chat with Christina Latifi, an Algonquin College counsellor.
When events like Craft & Chat were just an idea, Latifi reached out to Perrineau for help in addressing the overall wellness of students for each campus. The creation of Craft & Chat was important because Perth campus is a small community with different kinds of needs than the Ottawa campus.
They also wanted to address a noticeable disconnect between domestic and international students at the college. Their hope for this event, and others like it, is to give students an opportunity to relate to one another in a relaxed atmosphere.
When everybody arrives at Craft & Chat, they all introduce themselves and say why they’re there. Usually, there’s a jumping-off point introduced by Perrineau or Latifi.
“Talking about problems is a vulnerable thing to do, but this event is a special space for that,” says Perrineau. “Sometimes, up to eight people will join us, which is a lot for Perth. We sit around a table, set up the computer to include the Zoom people, and talk about mental health. Sometimes we play Pictionary and talk. It’s a lot of fun.”
Craft & Chat is a wonderful way to feel a sense of community and destress.
“Caprise and Christina are amazing,” said Medeiros. “It’s personal, but, also not. We discuss our mental health with no pressure.”
Craft & Chat provides snacks and loot bags to attendees. If you’re joining online, you can pick up your loot prior to the event. The bags this time contained Pur hand sanitizer, Kleenex, a condom reading “no glove no love,” lube, salt with instructions for a saltwater gargle, peppermint tea, blood-alcohol-level information flyers, an AC Health Services pen, and a card with information for Good 2 Talk, a 24-hour post-secondary student helpline.
Because of its success this summer, Perrineau and Latifi will continue Craft & Chat in the fall semester.