New award for Douglas students honours late teen

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Amanda Todd Legacy Award available for Child and Youth Care students

By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor

Three Douglas College students who are enrolled in a Child and Youth Care program at the David Lam campus are now eligible for an award created in memoriam of late Port Coquitlam teen Amanda Todd.

Todd made news headlines worldwide three years ago when she committed suicide at the age of 15 on October 10, 2012. Her death came shortly after she released a video on YouTube that detailed her experience with cyberbullying. Her death and video arguably resulted in governments, schools, and other groups worldwide revising their policies on cyberbullying.

“In Amanda’s memory, I wanted to be able to fulfil her dream of helping others. By creating this award, it will give opportunities to support the education of those who want to work in the field of mental health care,” Amanda’s mother, Carol, explained to Douglas College Student Life. “It is important that we are enabling interested students to assist those with mental health illnesses. There are never enough workers in that particular support system.”

The $1,000 award will be rewarded to three students on an annual basis for at least four years, meant to aid the costs of the program, which often involves students driving around for practicums, alongside other costs. Funding for the award is received from the Amanda Todd Legacy Fund, the Douglas College Foundation, and four Tri-City Rotary Clubs. Eligible students may begin to apply for the award in Winter 2016.

Those contributing to the award hope that the it will help promote conversation about mental health.

“At Douglas, we promote discussions about mental health inside and outside the classrooms, as well as providing counselling for students who might be facing mental health challenges,” said Hazel Postma, Douglas College’s Associate Vice President of Advancement and Alumni Relations, to Douglas College Student Life.

Todd’s death coincides with World Mental Health Day, thus providing a good prompt to discuss issues surrounding mental well-being every year around the anniversary of her death.

“It is important to combat the stigma around mental health, and the Amanda Todd Legacy Award will help us do that,” Postma continues.

Douglas College provides two different Child and Youth Care programs—a two-year diploma, and a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care—although students must apply for the B.A. program either way. Both programs specialize in working with at-risk children and youth through practicums and other working skills. Those enrolled in the program may choose specializations in Aboriginal Child, Family, and Community Studies, Youth Justice, or Child Protection.