‘I believe that change is possible’
Alexis Lahorra is a third-year undergraduate in the Faculty of Arts and Science studying Communications, Cultural Studies and Spanish. She’s also president of Jack.org Concordia — a student chapter of the national non-profit youth mental health organization — as well as a Terry Fox Scholar, a Forces Avenir finalist and a Montreal Community Cares winner.
Lahorra’s volunteer work recently brought her to Victoria, British Columbia, where she embarked on a remarkable journey with 18 other young leaders and one very royal couple. Here’s her story.
I’m part of a national network of advocates changing the way we think and talk about mental health. Our organization does this through various programs such as Jack Talks and the Jack Summit, both of which I’m involved in.
Recently, Jack.org was invited to join the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to Canada. On October 1, I travelled to Victoria to board the Pacific Grace Tall Ship. The trip was hosted by the Sail and Life Training Society (SALTS), a charity that helps youth build life skills through sailing.
Student leaders hoisted the sails and everyone contributed. I had the chance to steer the tall ship and speak with Prince William and Kate Middleton. I talked about my work with Jack.org, our Concordia Chapter and my personal story with cyberbullying.
It was great how the Duke and Duchess spoke to all the students and also asked questions. Their interest in mental health put a spotlight on the importance of talking about the issue and working together to end the silence.
The teamwork demonstrated on the tall ship is a symbol of how we can work for a world and a generation free of stigma.
I feel honoured to have shared this experience with Prince William and Kate, Jack.org staff, student leaders and SALTS crew members.
When I returned to Montreal, I knew the conversation wasn’t over. The lack of knowledge, fear and silence on mental health can prevent people from getting the help they deserve. Through prevention, conversations, collaborations and awareness, I believe that change is possible.
Find out more about October’s Mental Health Awareness Month at Concordia.