Algonquin College students joined local artist KJ Forman on Jan. 25 for a colouring and positive mental health workshop. The group enjoyed a relaxing hour of colouring while sharing and discussing positive forms of self-care.
Creative Collisions by Algonquin College DARE Makerspace holds a facilitator-led event once a month as well as weekly drop-in workshops where everyone is welcome to join with no experience required.
On Mental Health Week with Bell Let’s Talk, Creative Collisions invited Forman to lead a workshop on what they do best: combining self-care and art. Organized by Zeynep Guzide, Lindsay Snow and Ryan Cowtecky, this workshop was a great way for students to share, learn and create.
The Makerspace is located in Room 276 of the C-building and is a place for students to explore new ways to create. There is no prior experience required to use the 3D printers, Laser Cutter, VR Headsets or Vinyl Cutter as technicians, including Ryan Cowtecky, are available to teach and assist.
Forman is a non-binary feminist artist and the founder of the Luck and Lavender Studio in Ottawa. Forman creates digital art and their prints are sold on hoodies, stickers, colouring books and much more, all of which can be found on the Luck and Lavender website as well as in-store.
As a survivor of violence living with depression and anxiety, Forman has found therapy in creating art and wants to help others find their own voice and peace.
“In a high school science class, my teacher had us colour-in text as it is proven to help you remember criteria,” said Forman.“I’m not into science but I am into self-care.”
In May 2020, Forman led similar workshops over Zoom focusing on self and community care throughout the COVID-19 lockdown. During the lockdown, many experienced an overwhelming downward shift in their mental state and even though things are starting to return to normal, there is still a struggle to stay positive. Forman hopes to lighten the hardships and help others find comfort.
“After COVID things kind of suck, but there is space for you to not be okay right now,” said Forman.
The topics covered in the workshop included how to “survive and thrive,” the effects of social media and creating boundaries while still being supportive of loved ones when they need it.
Students shared ways they stay physically and mentally healthy which included exercising at the gym, staying hydrated, and even practicing breathing exercises. Forman suggests “anything that makes your body feel good” can help you feel good mentally.
Being on social media too often can cause negative effects on mental health. Social media often causes users to compare themselves to unrealistic conditions. Constantly scrolling becomes an addiction and a very common way to waste time. The group discussed other ways to stay mindlessly busy including crocheting, painting, drawing, baking and cooking.
It is also important to be aware of friends and family who could also be going through difficult situations. If someone is struggling and finds it overwhelming to be a reliable support system for another person, that should be recognized.
“You may not be able to be helpful when you’re not in the right headspace,” said Forman.
Participants were glad they attended the event.
“It’s nice to take a break from all the assignments for school,” said hospitality management student Khushi Patel. “I liked learning how everyone kind of goes through similar things and was able to share their thoughts. We are not alone.”
Culinary management student Akhisri Chowdhury also shared the comfort she felt after the event. “This was very helpful, different people had some very unique ideas that I’m glad I now know about,” she said. “The breathing exercises we talked about sounded very interesting. I think I’m going to try it.”
Baking and pastry arts student Amarah Humyun agreed that “it’s cool hearing about everyone’s experiences and having the freedom to participate.”
Students can find various resources on-campus and online in terms of therapy and school aid. The Centre for Accessible Learning has remote, over-the-phone and in-person appointments available for everyone which can be easily accessed online at email@example.com or by phoning 613-727-4723 ext.7200.
Home | Luck and Lavender Studio | LGBT Artist in Ottawa, Canada
Creative Collisions | Student Support Services (algonquincollege.com)
Centre for Accessible Learning (algonquincollege.com)
MakerSpace | Office of Applied Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship (algonquincollege.com)