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Images of Hope helps Canadore Students share how they’re coping with COVID-19

Nov 4, 2020 | Cindy Males, Public Relations and Communications Specialist

Recreation and Leisure Services student Sarah Hill was happy and optimistic before COVID-19. She was working on her practicum at a local elementary school and her daughter was happy in junior kindergarten.  She had a part-time job in her field and was looking forward to moving into a brand new townhouse. 

Then the pandemic hit and everything was shut down.

“The reality of the situation hit me hard,” Hill said. “I was no longer able to complete my practicum and I now had to complete assignments.  My daughter was home during the day and had to complete her own school work. My part-time job was non-existent, and the construction on the townhouses was put on hold.” 

Recreation Therapy student Candice Gagnon was facing similar struggles.

“I was finishing my final year in the Police Foundations Program,” Gagnon said.  “I have two children to worry about with school and daycare, plus a part-time job. It was exceptionally hard when the Quebec border was closed because that’s where my boyfriend and bonus boys live.  We were separated for five weeks. It was hard to try to find balance and just keep positive that things would work out.”

Canadore’s Student Success Services recognized that other students might be feeling the same anxieties, so the department brought back the “Images of Hope” challenge it originally ran in May.  This time the theme was “Coping with COVID-19”, and students were encouraged to share photos of how they were staying connected and positive. 

Sarah Hill won the challenge, submitting a series of photos that showed her coping mechanism.

“I would walk multiple times a day while my daughter would play outside. As I felt more comfortable, I started walking at least five kilometres a day,” she said. “I started running and worked my way up to running four times a week. At the end of April, I completed my first five kilometer Virtual Race in 38 minutes.”

Sarah Hill Submission Photo

Candice Gagnon was the runner-up. She submitted a photo collection of her family and their pets. “I chose this collage because 2020 was the most bizarre year.  It came with so much good, so much learning, so much anxiety and depression.  It also came with so much love.”

Candice Gagnon Submission

Canadore’s Student Success Services (SSS) recognizes that as the pandemic continues, students’ stresses and anxieties are likely to increase. The SSS team is passionate about supporting students, and it offers a variety of support options and materials to do that.  Canadore acknowledges how important it is for students to know that help is available, and the SSS team welcomes all students to reach out.

The team continues to reflect on what student support looks like when most students are no longer on campuses.

”We have had to quickly adapt to delivering our services in a virtual manner.  We continue to creatively reallocate our resources to support students as they attempt to balance stress and anxiety with college demands and their personal lives,” said Team Lead Julie Gervais. “Students have been sharing a wide range of concerns that include managing on-campus safety and course workload.” 

“The Student Success Services team uses various strategies and techniques to identify needs based on the conversation with each student. From there, an appropriate support plan is developed,” said Gervais. “Some students are really struggling. To help, we offer an eclectic therapy approach that adapts interventions personalized to the unique needs of each student and their goals, expectations and motivation.” 

“For students struggling with generalized anxiety, for example, we may use cognitive behaviour therapy along with mindfulness as part of the strategies to help address their anxieties, and to help the student in moving forward in a positive way,” said Gervais. 

In the meantime, Sarah Hill and Candice Gagnon are continuing with their studies, and enjoying the past-times that helped to get them this far.

“I still find some days harder than I would like to admit, but I believe that’s because I don’t know what will happen one day to the next,” said Gagnon.  “Thank goodness I’m surrounded by cute little models that let me take their photos wherever we go. I can create memories for them and for my friends and family. 

Sarah Hill says: “The Images of Hope contest really helped me put all that I have experienced over the past seven months into perspective.  Seeing how far I have come and where I am now, it’s amazing.  I was able to pull myself out of the darkness and run towards a healthier life.” 

Students can access support from Student Success Services by email at or through the webpage at

#Student Success Services