Megan fights the good fight against mental illness

A Mississauga student who won her battle with mental illness wants everyone to know that it’s not a death sentence, there is help and there is hope, wrote The Mississauga News June 24. For her efforts, 24-year-old York student Megan Lummiss has been named the youngest-ever winner of the prestigious Mary Neville Award.

Presented annually by Peel Children’s Centre (PCC), the award recognizes a community member who has made an outstanding contribution to children’s mental health services in the areas of prevention and early intervention.

Fighting back tears as she delivered her acceptance speech, Lummiss said she has battled obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder after being sexually abused. She was in and out of hospitals through her high-school years and finally became an in-patient at the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby.

Here, she met her mentor, a child and youth worker named Bob Heeney. He nominated her for the Neville Award.

Heeney says anyone who meets Megan is blessed. She is an active youth leader who, for the last five years, has been speaking to students who are experiencing struggles similar to her own. She attempts to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness, in part by informing them that it’s more common than they think. Nearly one in five people have a mental illness, he said.

“She has shown that, no matter how difficult her life was, she was able to embrace recovery and not only get well, but give back,” Heeney said. “She has changed the lives of 7,000 students and staff through her presentations.”

Lummiss, who’s studying to become a social worker at York University, said she tries to bring a message of hope to people when she makes presentations at schools across the GTA. “Find early intervention and move on,” she said. “(Mental illness is) not a death sentence. It does not mean that life stops and it does not define who we are. You can’t keep your problems bottled inside and hope they disappear. Talk about them. Suicide is not an option. There is help out there.”

Panel addresses anti-Israel ‘crisis’ on campus

Crisis on Canadian Campuses, a June 11 panel discussion organized by Hillel at York and hosted by Chabad Lubavitch, was held in advance of a two-day conference called Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace, wrote The Canadian Jewish News June 25.

The panellists expressed concern about what they said was the June 22-24 conference’s agenda to push for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which many fear would put an end to the Jewish state. They also discussed the hostile climate on campus between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students.

Compared with the anti-Israel activities of the early 1980s, “the situation has [worsened] dramatically,” said panel moderator Guidy Mamann (LLB ’85), an immigration law specialist and a graduate of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “Today, when I spoke to some of the young students who were going [to York], they described incalculable fear on campus and that is because things almost seem to be out of control.”

  • The registration by a reporter from the Jewish Tribune to attend a conference on Israel/Palestine was not accepted. A University spokesperson explained that the conference was not open to the media, wrote the Jewish Tribune June 24.

“It’s a common practice for academic conferences of this nature – in order to provide speakers and audience members with an environment conducive to candid dialogue and debate,” said Alex Bilyk, York’s director of media relations, in an e-mail to Atara Beck, the Jewish Tribune reporter.

Fine arts grad excited by newest gallery challenge

Stuart Reid (BFA Spec. Hons. ’86) does not have to be reminded that he has “big shoes to fill” as the newly arrived executive director of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, wrote Regina, Sask.’s Leader-Post June 25.

Reid comes to Regina from Ontario, where he was born, raised and educated – and where he has spent his entire professional career, most recently as head of the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in the picturesque town of Owen Sound.

“Entire professional career” is the operative phrase here. Reid felt he was becoming a bit too “Toronto-centric”, having graduated from York University there, and then worked for commercial galleries in the Yorkville district, later at the Ontario Crafts Council, and finally, before relocating to Owen Sound, the Art Gallery of Mississauga.

“All of that was very important in terms of my development,” Reid says, “but there is so much more to Canadian art than the art that happens in Toronto. I felt this was a logical progression. The thought of moving west was quite exciting. Perhaps it appealed to the pioneering spirit in me.”

York grad Lenny Lombardi likes his 2008 Lincoln MKX

On the airwaves, York grad Lenny Lombardi (BA ’83), son of the late CHIN Radio/TV founder Johnny Lombardi, says he’s committed to multicultural programming, but on the street he sticks with the domestics; he currently drives a 2008 Lincoln MKX crossover, wrote The Globe and Mail June 25 in an ongoing series about people and their cars.

But isn’t Lincoln an old man’s brand? asked the Globe. “Well, I guess I’m an old man!” he laughs. “It does not look like a staid type of senior vehicle. It’s a pretty hip-looking automobile,” says Lombardi, who is actively involved in the community and charities such as Variety Club, SickKids Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital.

His sister taught him to drive – not his dad. “My dad was a…bit of a reckless driver…he was always in a hurry and he’d make me nervous. I could always almost read his mind – ‘You’re not thinking of passing?’ ‘No. no’,” says Lombardi, who graduated from York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies with a BA in film studies and business administration.

Why former York Lion turned down chance to coach the Argos

Mike Benevides [a former member of the York Lions’ football team] understands why an outside party would second-guess his decision, largely because there were several inside parties who were happy to first-guess his decision, wrote Vancouver, BC’s The Province June 25.

The BC Lions’ defensive coordinator, for example, told a close friend at York University about rejecting the Toronto Argos’ head-coaching position this off-season.

“What are you, stupid?” was the heartfelt response.

Yet, after due consideration, he turned the Argos down and that decision raised all kinds of questions – some to do with his sanity, others with the Lions’ line of succession. “It was the toughest career decision I’ve ever had to make,” Benevides now says. “Neither one was wrong. At the end of the day, this just felt more right.”

On air

  • Heather Jordan, psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Health, spoke about anti-aging perfumes on CHMI-TV’s “Breakfast Television” (Winnipeg) June 24.
  • The mother of York student Steven Pho spoke about the family’s appeal for a suitable bone marrow donor on Citytv News June 24.