Tackling wellness with the magic of Hogwarts

Students in ML300 and the Harry Potter Alliance are collaborating to raise awareness around mental health. (Photo by: Ryan Hueglin)
Students in ML300 and the Harry Potter Alliance are collaborating to raise awareness around mental health. (Photo by: Ryan Hueglin)

The magic of Harry Potter is being used to raise awareness around mental health through a fundraiser at Wilfrid Laurier University later this week. The event is a joint effort between the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) and students enrolled in ML300, The Medieval Harry Potter course.

Renée Ward, an English professor who is teaching the course, explained that when she was putting together the course she decided she wanted to do something more.

“I heard an interview with some people from KW Counselling [Services],” Ward, who is also the faculty sponsor for the HPA, said. “They were talking about the gift card campaign and mental health month.”

The local organization is currently running a campaign called CardSwap. Individuals can donate retail gift cards and receive a tax receipt in return.

From this, Ward decided that she would give her students the option to take part in the fundraiser for a class project. By doing the fundraiser, students get out of writing a paper and get the chance to be a part of something bigger.

One of the students participating is Courtney Tran, a third-year communications student.

Tran believes that the Harry Potter theme of the fundraiser will help attract more people because Harry Potter is something that they already know and love.

“We’re just using something that we love and things that are related to it to help a good cause.”

The fundraiser will be taking place on Feb. 26 and 27 in the Concourse. They will be selling knitted and crocheted items, art and jewelry that are all Harry Potter themed. There will also be Dr. Who cupcakes and cookies. As well, gift card drop boxes will be all over the campus.

Ward expressed her hope that they will raise a few hundred dollars, which will be donated to KW Counselling Services.

One of the major misconceptions of mental health, Ward believes, is that a lot of the time people aren’t fully aware that mental health is something that they’re dealing with themselves.

“Students can very quickly feel isolated and alone, like they don’t know who to talk to and what to do. Students can slip through the cracks very quickly.” she continued.

The main goal of the event is to raise awareness, as people often don’t recognize the prevalence of mental health issues.

“The most important aspect of it is to raise awareness for mental health because it is something that students and faculty and staff deal with in their daily lives,” Ward said. “It’s something that is still heavily stigmatized in our culture. It really is about broadening the resources and broadening knowledge of resources for people.”

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