Vista Hills Public School Students Participate in Girls’ Government Lobby Day at Queen’s Park
QUEEN’S PARK – Ten Grade 8 girls from Vista Hills Public School in Waterloo travelled to Queen’s Park today to lobby political leaders to take action to create a Ministry of Mental Health.
The students are a part of MPP Catherine Fife’s Girls’ Government program, a non-partisan Equal Voice educational program that encourages girls to become politically engaged and teaches them to advocate for issues that matter to them. Since October 2017, students have been meeting to discuss a wide range of social issues. This year, they decided to focus their efforts on increasing awareness of mental health concerns in Ontario and called on the government to create a standalone Ministry of Mental Health.
“Girls’ Government provides an excellent opportunity, right before high school, for girls to see themselves as community leaders,” said Fife. “This is a non-partisan program being run across the province by MPPs from every caucus. The goal is to inspire girls to see themselves as change-makers and to know that one day, they can sit on school boards, City Council, in the Ontario Legislature, or the House of Commons.”
Students met with Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne; NDP MPP and Health Critic, France Gelinas; and Leader of the Official Opposition, Vic Fedeli. They held a press conference in the Legislative Media Gallery calling on all parties to move from talk to action, and commit to the creation of a Ministry of Mental Health.
Program participants stated, “Participating in Girls’ Government has taught us that our voices matter and that we should speak up about issues that matter to us. In grade 8, we have friends and family members who are experiencing mental health challenges. We want informal conversations about mental health to happen more often in our schools and communities. We need to have these conversations now in order to know how to deal with mental health throughout our lives. All Grade 8 girls should have access to a program like Girls’ Government, the world would be a better place with more activists.”
Currently, 27.2% of Canadian MPs, 35.5% of Ontario MPPs, and 18% of Ontario Mayors are women. Three of Waterloo’s seven City Councillors are women.
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Media Contact: Emily Trudeau, 416-325-6913