Mohawk students look to help Indigenous community

News Apr 26, 2019 by Mark Newman Hamilton Mountain News

They are a group of eager Mohawk College students who want to make life better for residents of the Six Nations of the Grand River.

Natalie Payette, Luisa Rodriguez, Kieran Smith, Haley Rogers and Georgia Rose — all second-year health, wellness and fitness program students — recently won the college’s Fit to Pitch event for their business plan that calls for the creation of a mobile nonprofit group that will take healthy cooking classes, nutrition seminars and physical fitness initiatives to Indigenous community.

“From there, we hope to improve lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease, that kind of thing,” said Payette, 26, who noted they named their team Sonderdipity, a combination of "sonder," a colloquial word meaning the belief that everyone has their own thoughts, feelings, ambitions and worries, plus "serendipity," which means a happy accident.

Thirty-seven teams of Mohawk wellness students were tasked back in January to identify a problem in the health and wellness field and come up with a business plan to address it.

The Sonderdipity group decided to focus on Indigenous health and wellness at the urging of Rose, 25, who grew up in Hagersville and saw firsthand how her friends from the Six Nations community battled poverty, health issues and injustice.

According to their research, 63 per cent of all Indigenous adults report having more than one chronic disease, and 55 per cent of Six Nations children were overweight or obese.

The students were among the final four teams who pitched their business plan to a panel of health and wellness industry officials in a format like the television show Dragon’s Den at the Arnie (students' centre) on April 20.

Rose said they were elated to learn they had won the competition at the end of the evening.

“It was kind of empowering to think we could actually pull this off and actually help these people,” she said.

Rodriguez, 23, said she wanted their plan to include a component to address families with low incomes, noting that was something her family experienced when they came to Canada from Colombia.

“Our family didn’t have access to the finances to go into sports or recreational things,” she said.

Smith, 25, said each of the students worked on a different aspect of the plan, and the next step will be to set up a healthy cooking class at the reserve in the coming months along as a pilot project.

They will also be looking for financing to support the initiative including government grants, private-sector funding and their own money.

According to their plan, the Sonderdipity staff will consist of the five founding students and a community representative, and each member of the team will be certified as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and will have certifications in safe food-handling, standard CPR and first aid.

Nick Petrella, a health, wellness and fitness professor at Mohawk, said the competition gives the college a chance to showcase its students.

“Really highlight what they’ve been doing for two years and all the work, the energy, the sweat and the sleepless nights that go into something like this,” he said.

Team member Haley Rogers was not available for the interview.

Mohawk College wellness students look to help Indigenous community

Sonderdipity plan wins college Fit to Pitch competition

News Apr 26, 2019 by Mark Newman Hamilton Mountain News

They are a group of eager Mohawk College students who want to make life better for residents of the Six Nations of the Grand River.

Natalie Payette, Luisa Rodriguez, Kieran Smith, Haley Rogers and Georgia Rose — all second-year health, wellness and fitness program students — recently won the college’s Fit to Pitch event for their business plan that calls for the creation of a mobile nonprofit group that will take healthy cooking classes, nutrition seminars and physical fitness initiatives to Indigenous community.

“From there, we hope to improve lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease, that kind of thing,” said Payette, 26, who noted they named their team Sonderdipity, a combination of "sonder," a colloquial word meaning the belief that everyone has their own thoughts, feelings, ambitions and worries, plus "serendipity," which means a happy accident.

Thirty-seven teams of Mohawk wellness students were tasked back in January to identify a problem in the health and wellness field and come up with a business plan to address it.

The Sonderdipity group decided to focus on Indigenous health and wellness at the urging of Rose, 25, who grew up in Hagersville and saw firsthand how her friends from the Six Nations community battled poverty, health issues and injustice.

According to their research, 63 per cent of all Indigenous adults report having more than one chronic disease, and 55 per cent of Six Nations children were overweight or obese.

The students were among the final four teams who pitched their business plan to a panel of health and wellness industry officials in a format like the television show Dragon’s Den at the Arnie (students' centre) on April 20.

Rose said they were elated to learn they had won the competition at the end of the evening.

“It was kind of empowering to think we could actually pull this off and actually help these people,” she said.

Rodriguez, 23, said she wanted their plan to include a component to address families with low incomes, noting that was something her family experienced when they came to Canada from Colombia.

“Our family didn’t have access to the finances to go into sports or recreational things,” she said.

Smith, 25, said each of the students worked on a different aspect of the plan, and the next step will be to set up a healthy cooking class at the reserve in the coming months along as a pilot project.

They will also be looking for financing to support the initiative including government grants, private-sector funding and their own money.

According to their plan, the Sonderdipity staff will consist of the five founding students and a community representative, and each member of the team will be certified as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and will have certifications in safe food-handling, standard CPR and first aid.

Nick Petrella, a health, wellness and fitness professor at Mohawk, said the competition gives the college a chance to showcase its students.

“Really highlight what they’ve been doing for two years and all the work, the energy, the sweat and the sleepless nights that go into something like this,” he said.

Team member Haley Rogers was not available for the interview.

Mohawk College wellness students look to help Indigenous community

Sonderdipity plan wins college Fit to Pitch competition

News Apr 26, 2019 by Mark Newman Hamilton Mountain News

They are a group of eager Mohawk College students who want to make life better for residents of the Six Nations of the Grand River.

Natalie Payette, Luisa Rodriguez, Kieran Smith, Haley Rogers and Georgia Rose — all second-year health, wellness and fitness program students — recently won the college’s Fit to Pitch event for their business plan that calls for the creation of a mobile nonprofit group that will take healthy cooking classes, nutrition seminars and physical fitness initiatives to Indigenous community.

“From there, we hope to improve lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease, that kind of thing,” said Payette, 26, who noted they named their team Sonderdipity, a combination of "sonder," a colloquial word meaning the belief that everyone has their own thoughts, feelings, ambitions and worries, plus "serendipity," which means a happy accident.

Thirty-seven teams of Mohawk wellness students were tasked back in January to identify a problem in the health and wellness field and come up with a business plan to address it.

The Sonderdipity group decided to focus on Indigenous health and wellness at the urging of Rose, 25, who grew up in Hagersville and saw firsthand how her friends from the Six Nations community battled poverty, health issues and injustice.

According to their research, 63 per cent of all Indigenous adults report having more than one chronic disease, and 55 per cent of Six Nations children were overweight or obese.

The students were among the final four teams who pitched their business plan to a panel of health and wellness industry officials in a format like the television show Dragon’s Den at the Arnie (students' centre) on April 20.

Rose said they were elated to learn they had won the competition at the end of the evening.

“It was kind of empowering to think we could actually pull this off and actually help these people,” she said.

Rodriguez, 23, said she wanted their plan to include a component to address families with low incomes, noting that was something her family experienced when they came to Canada from Colombia.

“Our family didn’t have access to the finances to go into sports or recreational things,” she said.

Smith, 25, said each of the students worked on a different aspect of the plan, and the next step will be to set up a healthy cooking class at the reserve in the coming months along as a pilot project.

They will also be looking for financing to support the initiative including government grants, private-sector funding and their own money.

According to their plan, the Sonderdipity staff will consist of the five founding students and a community representative, and each member of the team will be certified as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and will have certifications in safe food-handling, standard CPR and first aid.

Nick Petrella, a health, wellness and fitness professor at Mohawk, said the competition gives the college a chance to showcase its students.

“Really highlight what they’ve been doing for two years and all the work, the energy, the sweat and the sleepless nights that go into something like this,” he said.

Team member Haley Rogers was not available for the interview.