Three students from Hugh Boyd secondary’s social justice class just released their first-ever podcast episode featuring a special guest — the B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
The interview dives deep into the province’s overdose crisis and mental health policies, as well as how the ongoing pandemic has impacted the general public’s mental health.
“We want to know more and to spread awareness on this topic so that our generation, our schoolmates and people of our ages could know more about this topic,” said Grade 12 student Emma Errore.
The episode is a part of the class’s podcast titled Social Justice Voices which aims to engage young people in current world issues.
Errore and classmates Aseana Acabado, Grade 12, and Amelie Link, Grade 11, felt inspired to learn more about B.C.’s overdose crisis and mental health policies after watching a documentary on homelessness and substance abuse.
Errore and Acabado, both international students, said they were “really interested” in the subject as it was unfamiliar to them. Acabado, who’s from the Philippines, said substance use policies implemented in her home country are vastly different from those in B.C., including safe injection sites.
And who better to discuss this than Hon. Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions?
“We weren’t expecting (the minister) to answer and to actually take part in our podcast, but it was amazing!” said Errore. She added the team had waited three weeks without a single response after sending out interview requests.
The best part of creating the podcast, said Acabado, was formulating their questions for Malcolmson.
“Even just searching for the common misconceptions of the public has been really captivating for us because we do have a lot of misconceptions about these policies and (the subject) in general,” she said.
However, those misconceptions were changed after the podcast, Errore added.
The episode was wholly produced and edited by the students, and after a month of hard work and overcoming challenges such as hosting a podcast as non-native English speakers, they felt “grateful and happy” about the release.
They were also thankful to their teacher Michael Taylor who “supported (them) from the first day.”