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FCSS See | Change Symposium features leading speakers on mental health and resiliency

This year’s FCSS See | Change Symposium at the University of Guelph-Humber will feature presentations from leading speakers on mental health and resiliency, a career panel featuring professionals from a number of sectors within the social services, and a much-anticipated workshop run by a notable young activist.

To be held virtually for the first time on March 4, this year’s FCSS See | Change Symposium certainly presented its share of challenges to the leadership team of four Family & Community Social Services students tasked with organizing the event.

Ultimately, however, hosting the event in the virtual realm allowed the opportunity to recruit speakers from across North America.

“We have encountered some challenges with this being the very first virtual See Change Symposium,” said fourth-year FCSS student Amy Lesperance, one of the organizers.

“But overall, it has been a valuable learning experience for each of us on the team.”

A varied lineup

This year’s FCSS See | Change Symposium will feature presentations from two speakers. A former goalie in Team Canada’s women’s hockey program, Kendra Fisher will address the virtual gathering on how she used her experience with mental health struggles to better understand resiliency and to develop suicide prevention strategies.

Meanwhile, prominent speaker, drummer and author Mike Veny will tackle the importance of self-care within the field of social work, as well as finding new perspectives on anger, grief and fear.

The annual career panel will this year feature professionals from a variety of disciplines – including several successful UofGH alumni – with panel members Sophie Martin, Sandy Moshenko, Amanda Neves and Emma Pratt possessing expertise in areas including child welfare, addiction and trauma services, long-term care, and psychotherapy.

Finally, the symposium’s “So, You Want to be an Activist?” session will feature social justice and equity advocate Maria Dasoo offering practical advice on getting involved.

“We are so proud and excited to present each one of our speakers to all attendees,” Lesperance said. “Each will be coming to the Symposium with unique and valuable experiences and skillsets to share with the group.”

An evolving tradition

Even in a virtual setting, the FCSS See | Change Symposium continues to grow in size and scope. That’s a testament to the hard work put in each year by FCSS students eager to uphold the strength of previous events.

“It has been very rewarding year after year to see students transform into leaders,” said FCSS Assistant Program Head Dave Kydd, who works closely with the students each year to help guide their efforts with the symposium. “The event has risen in exposure within the FCSS program, resulting in an increase every year of students wishing to be involved as volunteers. We have also developed a loyal following amongst our industry partners, evidenced by the fact that a number of our field supervisors attend the event year after year.

“The student leadership team works closely together the entire academic year and, without exception, goes far beyond job descriptions as the event draws closer and the workloads increase,” he added.

“I have watched with admiration as these student leaders juggle their formidable academic responsibilities and the pressures of managing the symposium event.”

Lesperance was among those students who were inspired by previous symposiums to get involved this year. She has even more appreciation now for the behind-the-scenes work required to create an event that will engage students the way previous symposiums moved her.

“Having attended previous FCSS See | Change Symposiums, I have always admired that the event was always both fun and educational, and I never could have imagined all the hard work that goes into the event behind the scenes,” she said.

“I certainly have an even greater appreciation for all team members organizing student-led events. This experience has also granted me the opportunity to network with so many professionals in the field from whom I can learn as I navigate my educational and professional journey.

“I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be involved in such a meaningful event at the University of Guelph Humber. I'm hopeful that all those in attendance for this year's FCSS See | Change Symposium leave the event feeling enlightened and excited to continue navigating their educational and professional careers in the field of social work.”