Campus Life  

OC brings new counselling initiative online to support students

Outdoor courtyard with picnic bench on the Penticton campus

For students navigating stepping into a new semester amid a time of uncertainty and anxiety around COVID, Okanagan College’s Counselling Services team is creating a new opportunity to connect and build resilience.

GROW @ OC is the College’s newest counselling initiative, an online drop-in group to learn practical tools and strategies to become a more proactive student. Designed directly for OC students by OC counsellors, the six workshops offered throughout the fall semester focus on setting students up for success amid a semester during which many will be learning online.

The idea for the group sparked when the OC Counselling Services team started thinking about how to provide more variety in their supports to students. Given the online nature of learning in the fall semester, the additional community-oriented initiative came as a logical solution.

“We’re very aware of what an isolating experience it can be for students studying online right now,” says Sarah Lefebure, counsellor on OC’s Penticton campus. “GROW @ OC is the result of our collective recognition of the importance of community. Even though we can’t meet in person, we can still connect online and help each other to grow our resilience and wide-awake learning.”

There will be six workshops in total, running on Thursday afternoons at 3 p.m. and occurring every other week until the end of November. Each workshop will have a unique focus and students can sign up for one, a few or all of them. In addition to the hour-long session which will be formatted like an interactive webinar, there will be an optional 30-minute time afterwards for students to stay and connect, discuss and ask questions.  

Samantha Johnson, counsellor for the College’s Salmon Arm campus and Revelstoke Centre adds, “Now more than ever there is a need for tools and strategies that help to foster our resilience and to support our mental health and wellness.

“One of the silver linings of going online as an institution is the opportunity we have been provided to bring students together across all of our campuses and to create community in unique ways that we haven’t before.”

The first workshop is on Sept. 17, with all OC counsellors present to introduce participants to GROW @ OC. During the session, students will have a chance to learn each counsellor’s top tips for a successful semester and hear from them personally about what’s been helping them to navigate the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The second session on Oct. 1 will be presented by OC counsellors Glendon Wiebe and facilitated by Lefebure, with a focus on organization, time management and motivation. For all workshop descriptions, visit the GROW @ OC webpage here.

GROW @ OC comes as one of multiple services available for students through the College’s Counselling Services. The Flourish Wellness Project, launched in 2017 and based out of the College’s Penticton campus, offers workshops with the aim of creating safe spaces for student wellness and mental health. In the past, activities were offered in-person and included drop-in Wellness Wednesday workshops, Mindful Monday drop-ins, crochet classes and yoga. In May of 2020, Flourish pivoted to offering online Wellness Wednesday workshops, which have been continuing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Counselling appointments are open to students and are currently being offered through online video-chat sessions. To register for GROW @ OC workshops, go here.

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