Daniel is a first year student at Fleming College in the General Arts and Science University Transfer course who will be attending Trent University in the Honours Science program in Psychology next year. Currently, Daniel is the communications assistant for student council, a Student Life volunteer, a course representative and president of the club Project Cinderella Story (PCS) in Fleming.
Daniel’s campaign and charity project: Project Cinderella Story
Project Cinderella Story is a student-led project founded in April 2013 by Avery Cantello. After the death of her best friend, Amanda Todd, Avery began the project to advocate mental health awareness, suicide prevention and anti-bullying to other students, through the voice of fellow students. Our philosophy is that the best way for youth to connect to these issues is through the experience and image that only other students can give them. In October, 2013, Daniel saw Avery perform her song "Carnival of Souls" as a tribute to Amanda. Later that year in December, he joined Project Cinderella Story in hopes to be able to help Avery in her mission.
Accomplishments and Activities of Project Cinderella Story
Currently at the Fleming branch, Daniel’s team organizes multiple events to engage students to talk about their mental health. They have participated in 6 day-long events throughout the year which included anything from handing out free merchandise to stress relieving activities such as painting and group talks. They also have done multiple photo shoots, some of the bigger ones including Bell Let's Talk, as well as a collaboration with the company Wear Your Label. Their team consists of a network of students from all corners of the school. They are structured similar to a company and operate to get the best results out of everyone's individual abilities. They have also collaborated with other clubs such as the Social Justice Team and organizations such as Student Council. Daniel’s team’s efforts have engaged up to 350 students in one day.
What made Daniel want to get involved?
“Eight years ago I became victim to an online predator who utilized my naive personality to acquire a picture of me. At the time I didn't realize how severe this was all going to become, therefore I refrained from telling anyone. At that time, mental health and online harassment was rarely spoken about, especially not with men. I feared I would be scrutinized and called weak for the way I felt. I also had the impression that as a boy, I was to hold a certain "toughness" about me, and not show emotions. Following that incident, for the next two years I was haunted by similar situations, in a loop of looking for attention and fleeing from pain. Eventually I turned to more severe means of releasing my fear and began to harm myself. But once again, I was meant to "be a man", so how could I ever tell anyone how I felt? This cycle continued until I developed both depression and anxiety. So what changed?
Eventually, we come to a point where we either fight back, or let these things destroy us. I eventually hit the bottom of the barrel (so to speak), and decided it was time to push back. I sought help from a councillor who advised I start by taking better care of my physical health. So I slowly began to start running and eating healthier. I also lost a lot of weight and gained more confidence in myself and my body. Most importantly though I learned that people need to talk. If I felt like I could have talked maybe that wouldn't have happened to me. I hope to provide both common ground and inspiration for kids and young adults to also seek help. Our health is not something we should be ashamed of. 1/5 people might have a mental illness, but 5/5 have mental health, and we need to take care of it.
What are things I’ve done to deliver this message? Since joining Project Cinderella Story I have developed personal friendships and connections with multiple other organizations. I am an active blood donor and have donated 3 times since last October with the intent to continue. Also, I have used my photography skills multiple times to document events put on by Team 55 Tackles Suicide Awareness. These events included multiple fundraisers which have raised over 25000$ last year for training people about suicide prevention in the Peterborough community. I have volunteered in multiple Fleming events such as the Fall Open House, Big Brother/Big Sisters Day and almost all of the school dances. At these events I worked with students and younger children helping them feel comfortable in the school as well as providing an ear to listen to them if they needed support. Furthermore, because of my involvement with PCS, I was invited to attend Jack Summit 2015 which is a national meeting of 200 students who talk and create initiatives to change the mental health stigma. Students from every province in Canada were selected and brought to Toronto to brainstorm and network ideas about how we can change the country. Since Jack Summit, I have started a Facebook page called JackSpotted to document all the different places delegates have taken these ideas. Jack.org published blogs about both Project Cinderella Story and JackSpotted.” – Daniel S. Morris