I’m really excited to have this interview as my first blog entry for 2017. My soul feels good knowing that I am giving a platform to a cause that we sometimes don’t speak enough about – mental wellness and mental health.
In early December, I received a message via LinkedIn from Joan Saldanha asking to talk about her organization Eternal Springtime – a grassroots organization that helps children and youth break the stress cycle, and cultivate tools for resiliency through creative, mental wellness programs. Didn’t need to think twice about chatting with her, as I understand the need for the workshops. I told her I would love to do whatever I can.
This cause is very personal for Joan. As an adolescent she used creative means to help cope with stress. Starting Eternal Springtime was a way of giving back and also sharing with others the tools she learned.
To find out more about Joan Saldanha and Eternal Springtime, please keep reading.
Hometown: Born in Bangalore, India and currently resides in Ajax, Ontario
Astrological Sign: Taurus
Fun Fact: Joan is a martial artist
What is Eternal Springtime?
We focus on mental wellness and mental health, and we bring creative wellness workshops to children and youth in the community. Particularly children and youth who are marginalized (colour, race, racial identity, abuse) – who really could use tools of expression to help navigate through life’s adversities. I was that child. I came from a broken home; domestic abuse, alcoholism, and I used creative outlets to help me cope. I was into visual arts, writing and music, and those 3 elements really saved my life.
How did it help you?
I was a quiet, reserved child. Those creative platforms provided me ways to express that pain, the confusion, frustration and anxiety. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was a teenager. I continued to process what was in my head and heart through art. If I didn’t have those outlets, a lot of those things I was going through would’ve stayed within me.
Now as an adult, I want to share those tools. I want to teach others who don’t have the words to articulate their pain… I want to show children and youth how to cope through music, art and writing. I also bring wellness elements into the picture by uncovering: What is your true potential underneath all the layers of pain? Sometimes we end up thinking that’s who we are. But it’s not who we are. We try to help children find that light and their true purpose.
How does the program work?
It’s multi-streamed the way we work. We get into the schools, in the classroom with the teachers. I also work at the school board level so I’m on various committees. I do private sessions, and facilitate afterschool workshops on evenings and weekends.
What have you noticed with the children who’ve participated in the workshops?
I know that children love to create. They feel a sense of freedom to express what they want.
It’s a wonderful experience to see a child come in who’s reserved and apprehensive, then you give them these tools – stickers, markers, paint and you guide them a little bit, and then they end up creating something magnificent.
In the process of creating, I’m able to tap into their voice and we end up chatting. We talk about school, friends, whatever they want to talk about. You really get to know them on another level …..walls come down. Any time you are creating something, you’re being vulnerable – you’re showing something internal. We’ve noticed that kids are happier and lighter when they see something that they’ve created.
How have you introduced your organization to the community?
I’ve partnered with the Durham District School Board, various not-for-profit organizations, youth groups, shelters as well as parent and mommy groups. Letting them know that we’re here and what we’re working on. I’m a strong believer in community partnerships. It’s really important that I align myself with those organizations and groups that are working towards the same goals.
What are your plans for Eternal Springtime going forward?
To continue making the connections with key people that could make a difference.
We’ve gotten so technical with school that we’ve lost the creative element. For Eternal Springtime, our goal is getting into the school system, getting into the curriculum –creating some programs for children that learn differently, that learn more visually, more hands on. Not every child is going to be responsive at a desk with a pencil and paper just listening to a teacher.
Mental wellness is a big thing for me because it’s personal. I see children and they’re stressed out; they’re anxious. I think it’s a little bit of everything – the current state of the world….the energy is shifting and it’s really important that we as caregivers, parents and community workers be there as a safety net during this shift and we take it into a positive direction.
Wow, this talk with Joan made me feel hopeful. Not sure if it was the tone of her voice or the subject matter, but I felt enlightened and at peace after our 40 minute discussion.
It’s heartwarming to see how she unselfishly takes an interest and invests in the well being of children through her organization. Thanks for being a beautiful person, and thanks for the chat.
For more information, please visit the following sites: