Brock Nursing student Hilary Tyler is helping to make our world more accessible for people with disabilities.
She was recently selected as a top finalist in the province-wide Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) student challenge for her “Everybody Hurts Campaign” idea. The initiative is designed to promote empathy in order to break down the attitudinal barriers that exist for people living with mental illness.
Tyler’s awareness campaign for the IDeA initiative was awarded third prize ($500) by the Council of Ontario Universities on May 15 at this year’s Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Discovery conference in Toronto.
The aim of the IDeA contest was for students to develop innovative, cost-effective and practical solutions to “barriers” to accessibility in our communities. The challenge was co-ordinated by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) in partnership with the Government of Ontario.
“The loose guidelines for the contest allowed for me to address accessibility from a unique angle,” says Tyler, who is in her third year of the Nursing program at Brock.
“While it is easier to look at building empathy on an individual basis, my idea was to promote empathy on a larger scale,” she says. “The intent was to a to help members of the university community become better able to connect and empathize with students who are living with mental illness.”
To represent this, Tyler’s campaign utilizes the mental health continuum, which displays a range of emotional states from maximal to minimal mental health.
“As one of the action steps to build empathy, the continuum would be placed in a university common area to show how emotions can range on a daily basis,” says Tyler.
“The Everybody Hurts Campaign was developed out of Hilary’s observation of the need for change in public knowledge and perceptions of mental illness,” says Lynn McCleary, the professor of Nursing at Brock who introduced the IDeA challenge to students in her Promoting Mental Health course. “This initiative will help to reduce stigma and improve the accessing of mental health services by those who need them.”