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In any given year one in five people will experience mental health or addiction problems. Early investment in well-being promotion, mental health prevention and early identification for young people, followed by rapid access to effective interventions, can be expected to lessen the burden of illness significantly. It can also be expected to pay dividends because the burden and cost of illness will be lessened along their lifespan.
WE Well-being is centered on evidence-based prevention and promotion strategies and is designed to build a foundation of awareness, understanding and action—providing the resources and platform to foster an open conversation about positive well-being for youth, educators (K–12), post-secondary students, families and workplaces.
Drawing on evidence-based mental health promotion and prevention strategies, WE will support the early development of positive mental well-being for individuals, families and communities through stigma-reduction and accessible and inclusive programs.
WE will make mental well-being as understandable and actionable as physical well-being.
WE will actively celebrate diversity and promote strategies that include a focus on specific/priority populations and mental health equity.
Leveraging our youth-centric platform, WE will engage youth as change-makers and leaders to promote their own mental well-being knowledge, skills and competencies, and to support the well-being of their schools, families and communities.
WE will harness the organization’s reach—4+ million students, 16,000 schools, tens of thousands of engaged educators, technology platforms such as the WE Global Learning Center, celebrity ambassadors, WE Day stadium events with 250,000 participants—to deliver the programs and resources for large-scale impact on mental well-being and the cultivation of positive human qualities.
There is a need to empower educators and youth with well-being promotion and supports. Healthy emotional and social development in early years lays the foundation for mental health and resilience throughout life.
We know schools in North America and the UK are seeking the resources and tools to integrate well-being into the classroom. The demand for child and youth mental health support far exceeds the ability of current clinical, community-based and school district response systems. WE surveyed 600 educators about well-being and found:
We will embed well-being into the daily learning and actions of young people. The program will equip students and educators with educational curriculum and supporting resources that foster social, emotional, physical and mental well-being inside and outside of the classroom. Moreover, the program will empower participants to build safe and caring environments, while reducing stigma and other mental health risk factors.
We are also developing a series of multimedia materials for people of all ages to support the promotion of their well-being and that of their communities, along with a series of simple actions to help nurture a positive sense of well-being.
Erika Elkington believed people have greatness within them and success is something we can all achieve. Passionate about travel and languages, she herself took on many challenges and was always learning. She spoke multiple languages and had seen much of the world by the age of 26.
Erika had a Bachelor of Education, a Certified Human Resources Professional designation, graduated from the Sauder School of Business in family business and earned an MBA. With her love of business and entrepreneurship, combined with her passion for teaching, Erika focused on helping women in the workplace, youth and start-up businesses succeed.
Erika was also a woman who wasn’t always sure of herself. Yet she was determined to push herself and find her greatness. That greatness, she believed, was found in being loving, caring and inspiring to others.
“She was loved by all. Those who had a chance to know her will tell you, her spirit and drive were infectious and she brought joy to everything and everyone she touched. Why Erika is no longer with us today is difficult to understand. Mental health and suicide are often like that; difficult to understand.”
Erika, 29, died by suicide on August 6, 2015; she was one month away from celebrating her 30th birthday.
To honor Erika, family and close friends created The Erika Legacy Foundation in 2016. The mission of the foundation serves to honor Erika and the person she was by:
The Erika Legacy Foundation strives to build safer and inspired communities by partnering with charitable organizations that capture the spirit of what Erika believed in.
As the Chief Operations Director for WE Charity, Carrie Patterson is responsible for all WE Schools programs, including WE Well-being, the WE Global Learning Center and the exciting and innovative programs taking place in person and online. She also leads all WE leadership programming and camps, overseeing teams in three countries who are dedicated to bringing experiential service-learning to life for millions of young people around the world. Carrie is passionate about empowering youth and strives to provide young people with transformative experiences through the WE Schools program. Carrie has a long and extensive career specializing in work with young people around the world.
Jeff is an experienced educator with over 25 years in public education and extensive experience leading families of schools, curriculum development, special education, leadership and staff development, and serving marginalized communities. Jeff has been a teacher at both the elementary and middle school levels, as well as a principal for over 10 years in very diverse communities. A significant portion of his career was dedicated to creating, supporting and implementing district-wide social justice programs. The last few years of his career where spent in central office as Superintendent Lead in support of Special Education. He holds an Honors Degree in Physical Education, a Bachelor of Education degree from York University as well as a Master of Education degree in Guidance and Counselling from OISE.
Maureen has spent her career in education working as a teacher, university faculty associate, principal and assistant superintendent for the Coquitlam School District. As the Superintendent of Reading/Literacy and Early Learning at the BC Ministry of Education, Maureen was a team member supporting the redesign of British Columbia’s K–12 curriculum and competency development. Maureen is frequently called upon to provide advice on policy, process and practice in the realms of professional learning, collaborative practice, educational leadership, curriculum implementation and assessment. She holds a Masters of Education from Simon Fraser University.
Kaila has worked with students in Canada and internationally within a diverse range of learning environments. She developed co-curricular workshop programming for The Second City in Toronto, fusing the arts with social justice education, leadership and personal character-building. Kaila has facilitated educational and leadership development programming in Ontario schools and summer camps, and through the WE Schools program. She is passionate about the impact that outdoor experiences and the arts can have in promoting well-being for youth and adults. Her credentials include an Undergraduate Degree in Global Development Studies with a minor in Vocal Music, as well as a Bachelor of Education specializing in Primary-Junior Education.