By: Ben Salom
This past Sunday, April 23, marked Goucher College’s first Mental Health Field Day. The event, which took place on the Margaret M. Winslow Great Lawn was held to promote physical and mental wellness, as well as to memorialize beloved Goucher College student Collin Clarkin-Wright, who took his own life in October of 2016.
Kyle Kihn ‘18, captain of the Goucher Men’s Outdoor Track and Field team and organizer of the event said, “The goal of this event was to teach people ways that you can be active, and be outside to play active games, because being active is an important part of maintaining mental health.”
The field day’s festivities included organized games and competitive challenges, as well as more spontaneous and free-form play, such as throwing footballs and flying discs. Refreshments were provided in the form of soda, pretzels and hot dogs. The events on the Great Lawn lasted from noon to 4pm, after which there was a walk through the campus woods attended by Collin’s parents and his dog.
Kyle said that the idea for Mental Health Field Day actually began with Collin himself, who was a fellow member of the Men’s Outdoor Track and Field team. Collin had attended the Baltimore Collegetown LeaderShape program, designed to teach students how to “create social change…receive support as you develop projects, programs, and internships that make a difference.”
Wanting to make a positive impact on his community, Collin came up with the idea of a day of activities designed to raise awareness of mental health issues. He had spoken with fellow students in the athletics program, including Kyle, about helping make this event a reality. When Collin passed away earlier this school year, Kyle decided that it was the perfect opportunity to do the event, now as a memorial to Collin.
The event was run by the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, with different athletic teams contributing to the event with different plant activities. For instance, the Men’s Lacrosse team grilled hot dogs, Women’s Lacrosse ran a game called “Sister, sister,” which is similar to “Simon Says.” Another student athlete ran three-legged races, and potato sack races. The Equestrian team brought their miniature horse, Cookie for people to play with, and Rowdy the Gopher, the new school mascot also made an appearance.
Kyle believes that the field day was a success, and in keeping with Collin’s vision. He said, “I hope we have honored Collin’s memory in a way that he’d want, and in a way that he wanted this event to be done….and my two biggest hopes would be, one, we showed at least a handful of people some fun outdoor activities that they can do to be active on their own. Some way to get active, because that is an important thing for positive mental health. And i hope that people have a good time, and we gave them something to do, blow off some steam before finals.”
The hope of the students is that Mental Health Field Day becomes an annual event. Additionally, to support physical and mental well being year-round, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee is exploring the possibility of purchasing basic sports equipment to kept in the Sports & Recreation Center for students to rent.