First THRIVE event of the year starts off with a splash of colour

By Timur Syrota

RRC’s THRIVE events can show how positive mental health supports academic and career success. This year, they kicked things off with a virtual paint night on Sept. 24. 

Red River College Students’ Association (RRCSA) and Red River College’s Healthy Minds Healthy College (HMHC) initiative are spearheading the events once again. 

Breanna Lynn Sawatzky is the mental health coordinator at RRC’s HMHC initiative and has been organizing THRIVE events for RRC students and staff for the past four years.  

This summer, Sawatzky and Amanda Rae Dorsheid, RRCSA’s program director, devised plans to take their THRIVE events online. The Sept. 24 paint night was their test run for going virtual. 

“Paint nights are always one of our best-attended THRIVE events and we thought it would lend itself well to virtual delivery,” said Sawatzky. “It was our first time trying a virtual THRIVE event. It went great, and our instructor Kisa MacIsaac that led the session did a perfect job.”  

Kisa MacIsaac, an RRC Early Child Education graduate, teaches wellness painting events. MacIsaac said she believes that making art is medicine and has the power to reduce stress and anxiety.

During the paint night livestream MacIsaac didn’t just share how to create art, she also provided some personal insight with the participants.

Painting instructor Kisa MacIsaac reveals her finished piece from THRIVE’s Paint Night on Sept. 24, 2020./MACISAAC

“It’s easy to get stressed and busy and focus on everything else that’s going on around outside of you.  But we have to stop and check in and see how we’re doing personally, mentally, physically, and spiritually,”  MacIsaac said. “Art is a way to put things on pause – it helps us be in balance.” 

Thirty-six participants watched the livestream but Sawatzky said she hopes more students and staff are involved in future virtual events. 

“Based on the success of [paint night], I would love to do another one.” said Sawatzky. “I also love the idea of having a cooking night; instead of paint material, we would put together packages with ingredients for people to pick up and cook stress-free recipes.”

The next THRIVE Event is free Movies for Mental Health, a virtual workshop that uses the power of film to unite folks in community, connection, and conversation, on Oct. 21.

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