2021 Coolminds Summer Check-In

On Saturday, August 14th 2021, a special event took place in one of the buildings in Kwun Tong. The 2021 Coolminds Summer Check-In brought together many young people from university and secondary schools across Hong Kong, who shared a deep interest in mental health and a desire to learn more about it. The leading theme was “Art with Heart”, with an aim to promote artistic expression as a way to take care of one’s mental health.

The event was launched with the help of volunteers, interns,and members of the Coolminds Youth Advisory Committee (YAC), who assisted in planning the activities, games, and logistics, from finding a suitable venue and designing souvenirs, to inviting speakers and making sure that participants received a correct lunch option. 

For me, the most memorable part was definitely the moments of meaningful social interactions, enhanced by entertaining games organised by the YAC – such as the friendship bingo game. Meeting people equally engaged in the promotion of mental health and making friends with them was truly special, and it provided an additional space to discuss what we’ve learned through the workshops and speaker sharings. Moreover, I was awed by the professionalism of the event. People would often think that students are too young to take up big responsibilities, but the Summer Check-In proved them wrong. The event was well-designed and professional, and the invited guests were truly amazing. The fact that it was conducted simultaneously in person and online is even more admirable. 

Firstly, on the opening note, the event invited a local Hong Kong comedian, Vivek Mahbubani, who shared a few important remarks on how to find positivity in the most difficult situations and look at the negativity from a wider perspective. Right after the opening ceremony, the participants had a chance to mingle, while playing ice breakers such as friendship bingo. I really enjoy it, as it provided an opportunity to get to know very interesting facts about other people, such as whether they need ten alarms to wake up or if they dislike bubble tea. It was a really nice way to start opening up with each other and begin to share each other’s journeys. 

Another icebreaker focused more on mental – health related knowledge, called “Spectrum”, and was an opportunity to learn about other people’s views on mental health and some common misconceptions or myths surrounding the topic in our current society.

The second session on the agenda was divided into two bilingual streams: the English stream began with a movie, whereas the Cantonese stream started with an art workshop, and, after a joint snack break, they switched. The English movie shown during the event, “Invited In”,  mentioned the topics of mental health during the pandemic, and the struggles many of us face when approaching the new, virtual world. 

Together with the Cantonese movie “Flashback”, the film screenings were not only a great reminder that we are not alone in how we feel, but also they explored a new perspective on the possible solutions to the pressure and struggles we may face, culminating in a panel discussion with the film directors, community experts in mental health, and youth speakers, providing an opportunity for the audience to participate in a time of reflection. The invited panelists gave insights into the storyline of the films, and shared their personal mental health journeys, which was another way to bring the conversations about mental wellbeing to light.

The art workshop was conducted by two registered art therapists from the Hong Kong Association of Art Therapists, and was titled “Nature Art Workshop”. During this meaningful activity, we were challenged to expand our perspective on what we find “normal”. By drawing a simple pot plant from different perspectives and with a focus on different elements, it was a lesson highlighting the importance of understanding our own approaches to daily activities and realising what emotions accompany us when we do it, encouraging us to translate them into real life. For example, trying to draw the entire plant with closed eyes felt awkward and unfamiliar, and drawing just a little detail from the whole plant felt a little bit limiting. 

After the workshops and a short break, we participated in a “Youth Community Sharing” highlight panel which presented different youth-led projects focused on art and mental health that local students have launched in their communities. Listening to so many young people speaking passionately about what has changed with their dedication and efforts, and how they are planning to expand their initiatives was truly refreshing and inspiring, with the underlying message that anyone – regardless of age or experience – can change the world. 

Lastly, there was the award ceremony, where the winners of the previously conducted games received their prizes, and the Young Community Sharing speakers, panelists, and Coolminds school representatives  were presented with certificates. In the closing remarks, the YAC volunteers and interns summarised the whole event, and the Summer Check-In officially ended with a photo-taking session. 

Overall, the event was definitely a success, bringing many like-minded and motivated people together to advocate for the importance of mental health, which is often still a taboo topic, especially in Hong Kong. The YAC will definitely work on more similar activities, further inspiring others to take care of their mental wellbeing.