Students munched and crunched on samosas, spring rolls and dipped their dumplings in various sauces. Laughter and music bounced from various stalls set up at the UTM Student Centre. Although the temperature outside had dropped to minus seven degrees, a vibrant sun shined through the windows, complimenting the joyous atmosphere. It was February 2, and many groups had united for Unity through Diversity week in order to bond through sharing food.
One group, however, not only served pizza but also spoke out to connect with the youth. As students gathered around the booth, Anu Bhatia, external executive of the club C.H.A.T., used a projector and microphone to outline the reasons why you may want to join the club.
C.H.A.T. stands for Creating Healthy Attitudes Today. It was founded by Farheen Mohammad who was greatly affected by the Virginia Tech shootings on April 16, 2007. After finding several like-minded U of T students, she created C.H.A.T., whose goal is to create campus unity and awareness about healthy living. It also seeks to understand the factors that lead to incidents like the Columbine massacre.
Last year, C.H.A.T. held many events around campus such as a Virginia Tech memorial service, a valentine for the homeless, and a shelter run. This year, C.H.A.T. ran a workshop with grade seven and eight students at Lord Lansdowne Public School, downtown Toronto. The workshops goal was to allow students to understand the different types and symptoms of bullying. The students also participated in various activities to decode different forms of stereotypes and later on learned about different ways of healthy living.
On that sunny February day at the Student Centre, C.H.A.T. succeeded in recruiting a couple of new members. It is, however, still looking for students interested in creating and fostering healthier attitudes. Those who are interested in joining, or want to learn more, can contact Ahmed Faress at a.faress @utoronto.ca.