Six new workshops, a part of the GROW@OC program, will equip Okanagan College students with the tools they need to be resilient amid the COVID-19 pandemic. First session takes place Sept. 17, 2020. (Contributed)

Six new workshops, a part of the GROW@OC program, will equip Okanagan College students with the tools they need to be resilient amid the COVID-19 pandemic. First session takes place Sept. 17, 2020. (Contributed)

Okanagan College’s new online supports builds resilience amid COVID-19

New online counselling initiative eases high anxiety brought on by pandemic, online learning

The start of a new semester of college is challenging enough, but in the midst of a global pandemic, anxieties are high. To alleviate some of the anxiety, Okanagan College’s Counselling Services has created a new opportunity online to connect with its students and build resilience.

GROW@OC is the college’s newest counselling program that offers virtual drop-in group sessions where students will be equipped with practical tools and strategies to become a more proactive student.

“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,” said Samantha Johnson, a counsellor for OC’s Salmon Arm and Revelstoke centre said.

Designed with OC students in mind by OC counsellors, the six workshops offered through the fall semester will set students up for success in a semester that will involve a lot of learning online.

The workshops will be held every other Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. until the end of November. Each will have a unique focus and students can sign up for as many sessions as they would like.

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.

“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,” Johnson said.

The idea behind GROW@OC was sparked when the counselling team was thinking of how to provide more variety in their supports to students. As many of the classes move to online, it made sense to move this tool in that realm as well.

“We’re very aware of what an isolating experience it can be for students studying online right now,” Penticton campus counsellor Sarah Lefebure said. “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.”

The first session takes place Sept. 17. This will be an introduction to the program with all OC counsellors present.

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.

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

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Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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