Graduate shines a spotlight on mental health

A talented Ara graduate and former participant of the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) in Canterbury has achieved her dream of publishing a mental health diary.

Samantha Fairhall CEO for The Hope for Happiness first came up with the concept for The Little Book of Smiles, along with her four classmates, in 2018 as a year-13 business student at Middleton Grange School.

The group were participants in the Young Enterprise Scheme; a programme which provides support and mentoring for secondary school students to craft an innovative idea, and then turn that into a real business.

“I wanted to create a resource that the youth of New Zealand could turn to when it was challenging. I have always had a passion for helping people and bringing out the best in them,” Fairhall says.

“We all know how big an issue mental health is in New Zealand, so I have taken the opportunity to act and see where the need is.”

Idoia Alday Gonzalez, YES Canterbury Regional Coordinator says, “The Little Book of Smiles is a prime example of what can be achieved when we expose our young people to entrepreneurship. Students like Samantha are the leaders of tomorrow, and it is imperative that they are empowered to be drivers of change at a young age.”

The interactive book features short stories, inspirational quotes, recipes, drawing pages and thought-provoking questions – all designed to facilitate a conversation around mental health and provide a safe space for teenagers and young adults to record and process their own challenges.

Last year Fairhall faced her own setback when COVID-19 put a halt to her publishing plans. She chose to pivot her focus and explore interests she had in other areas, by studying a Certificate in Sustainability and Outdoor Education through Ara Institute of Canterbury.

Now after four years of hard work, fundraising and development Fairhall is excited to say the book is available for purchase, and it turns out that it coincided with another big celebration.

“I published The Little Book of Smiles on my 21st Birthday. I couldn’t have asked for better timing!”

You can order The Little Book of Smiles for $25 by emailing the team at [email protected].

Ara is a regional partner, and sponsor of the Young Enterprise Scheme. The programme aligns closely with Ara’s approach of experiential, real world learning, which helps to develop problem solving, leadership and communication skills.

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