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Bathroom stall art raises mental health awareness

Credit: JORDAN CROW

The new art in the Student Centre and The Out Back Shack washrooms is here to stay.


Angela McInnes | Interrobang | News | January 11th, 2019




The Fanshawe Student Union (FSU) is using bathroom art to send messages of hope and positivity.

New, colourful designs now cover the stall doors inside male and female bathrooms of the Student Centre building and The Out Back Shack. Instead of typical lewd bathroom graffiti, there are encouraging phrases and quotes such as “Big journeys begin with the smallest steps” and “Failure is only the opportunity to start again only this time more wisely”.

FSU president, Jahmoyia Smith spearheaded the project after seeing an online story of parents and teachers in a United States middle school painting encouraging messages in female washrooms. She got a team together in early October to brainstorm how they would bring the concept to Fanshawe.

“We sat down and looked for encouraging messaging and different artwork,” Smith said. “We came up with short but inspiring quotes to put on the doors and we took it a step further than the middle school project and did both male and female washrooms as well, because part of our membership is male, part of it is female, and we wanted to touch both sectors as we believe that everybody needs it.”

Because the stalls are covered in a protective paint, the art was applied in late November using a vinyl overlay.

Smith said that she also saw the project as an opportunity to inform students of what mental health resources are available to them. At the bottom of the artwork is the web address for fsu.ca/mental-health, where students can find information on on-campus resources, community resources, events, and articles all in one place.

“It's not just an inspirational message on the door. It takes you a step further to know that we'll give you kind words, but we can also support you more if you need,” Smith said.

Sexual Violence Prevention Advisor Leah Marshall took part in the project as well, and gave input into the designs in the Outback Shack's women's washrooms, where there is additional information for the College's sexual violence prevention services.

“It's important for us to make sure we're giving out the service information so that students know what's available to them and what their rights are on campus,” Marshall said. “The partnership with the FSU was to provide some messaging in the washroom which will be around our beliefs and support for survivors of sexual violence. They can come to meet with me to find out what their options are, not just for medical care and counselling options, but also legal and reporting options and even academic accommodation.”

Smith said that the bathroom stall art is permanent, and a part of her overall mission to emphasize mental health awareness throughout her presidency.

“My favourite one is ‘We are all in this together',” Smith said. “It speaks to the whole aspect of mental health in not being alone. No matter how much support you think you have, no matter how much support people try to provide, it always feels like it's a journey that you're making by yourself. These resources are to help students realize that you're not alone, we're all in this together.”
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