A group of people stand in a circle with their arms outstretched.

Students in Humber College’s Community Integration through Co-operative Education (CICE) program say a series of workshops that offered them ways to de-stress proved to be valuable.

The CICE program supports adult learners with developmental disabilities and the program provides accessible learning at a modified academic level for the students' needs.

Monica Freitas and Zeynep Sandirli, CICE integration facilitators, identified that CICE students were experiencing a gap in access to the mental health and well-being support services Humber offers. In 2021, the two developed the B-Well initiative that offers stress-management and other mental well-being supports for their students, at a modified level.

“We decided to create these workshops within our own program that were catered to our student population to provide a space where resources were directed to them and also allowed them to be more aware of the different services in the college,” said Sandirli.

Many of the students would tell them they were feeling overwhelmed and were experiencing a lack of social interaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic as courses were being delivered online. Even when classes went back to in-person, that change proved to be a stressor for some of the students.

After seeing a positive response, they wanted to enhance the workshops while also providing an opportunity to students from wellness-related programs to learn how to work with adults with intellectual disabilities.

They connected with their peers from two programs – Onika Green with the Stress Management course from the University of Guelph-Humber’s Kinesiology program and Noah Gentner with Humber’s Wellness Coaching program. Freitas and Sandirli offered resources to students from both programs on how to create modifications to the workshops that were specific to the CICE learners’ academic needs to ensure an inclusive learning environment.  

Students from the two programs facilitated the workshops.

“What I liked about these B-Well workshop sessions is the different techniques and stretching exercises that Stress Management students were showing to me to help manage stress. As a college student, it has helped me to continue to be motivated in school and in the workforce and to stay strong every day,” said Bryan Tersigni, a second year CICE student.

“It was nice to get out of my element and now I know new strategies to combat stress,” added Julian Donovan-Barrett, who’s in the first year of the CICE program.

Freitas noted that the interfaculty collaboration had benefits for the students in all the programs, not just CICE. It was a valuable experience to learn how to effectively deliver services to different populations. It was also a good way to diversify their skill sets.

The workshops took a variety of forms, including meditation or art therapy.  

“I enjoyed the workshop and learning about the different stress management techniques. My favourite part was the activity with the essential oils. I felt calmer when I was smelling the essential oils because the smells made me feel relaxed. I figured out this would be something I would enjoy doing in my spare time,” said second-year CICE student Sarah Scarlett.

Visit the Healthy You healthy community hub for more information on Humber’s well-being supports and services.