Love On A Budget: Cheap Date Ideas For Minimum Wage Earners (And Penny Pinchers)

Eloisa Jane Mariano is a first-year bachelor of public relations student at Humber College.

Ever wanted to go on a cute date with your significant other and realized you have pretty much no money? Or wanted to go out and do something fun with your friends, and screamed in horror when you looked into your wallet? Personally, for myself, I always want every date with my boyfriend, Michael, to be special and different each time. Unfortunately, I can’t afford fancy dinners or trips that are deserving of him. I also don’t want him to be completely bored and spend hours deciding what we should do. So if you’re in the same situation where you either earn minimum wage or have a bit of a budget, what can you do to ensure a memorable and fun time with your special someone or best friend? Here are 10 fun (and cheap) date ideas that your significant other is sure to love.

  • Cooking: Not only does this put your teamwork skills to the test, but it also takes care of dinner (or breakfast… or lunch) too! Grocery shopping is usually cheaper than buying a three-course meal at a fancy restaurant, especially when you probably own most of the ingredients anyway. You can make grocery shopping fun by creating a scavenger hunt out of it, and either agree to split the bill or the “loser” of the scavenger hunt covers the bill (or washes the dishes). Another fun idea is to create a make-believe cooking show and document the production of your meal as well as the results!
  • Watching Old Cartoons or Movies: Contrary to the whole “Netflix and chill” notion, the idea of staying in and watching movies all day actually makes for a great date. This is especially true when it’s raining outside or you both had a tiring day at work. Watching each other’s favourite childhood cartoon or movie can bring back waves of nostalgia, and who better to share that with than your significant other? Disney marathon anyone?
  • Adventure Time: While you won’t be travelling to distant lands, you can be sure that the fun will never end when you go on mini trips in your town or city. Be tourists together and visit the great attractions and parks. Beaches and parks are free, and picnics are super easy to assemble! Show your loved one a whole new world with all your favourite places (or with places you haven’t been to before!)

  • Skating: Skating allows you to literally fall for each other, but know that you’ll have that someone to help you get back up on your feet. This has always been my go-to first date idea because it gives you an excuse to hold hands. This is even cuter if you are both horrible skaters because it gives you more of a reason to hold onto each other. Enjoy the simplicity and magic of hand-holding and have fun trying not to fall!
  • Play House in Ikea: Ikea is probably the best date to go on if you’re both silly and have an open mind. Michael and I went to Ikea for breakfast (only $1 for a plate with eggs, sausage and potato cubes) and then marvelled at all that Ikea had to offer. They have showrooms with all their furniture.. perfect settings to play house in. After, we enjoyed hot dogs (75 cents each) and $1 ice cream cones.
  • Just Dance Party: This is a great idea for those who already own the game and console, and it’s a date idea that you can use every now and then. I get so competitive for this; it’s a little embarrassing but relationships are all about being yourself with someone who loves your little quirks right? Dancing is so much fun, and creating a little friendly competition always adds more excitement.
  • Build something: Building things together is another test of your teamwork abilities, and it’s always nice knowing that the two of you created something pretty cool! Winter seems to be the best time to build things such as snowmen, snow forts and gingerbread houses!
  • Arts and Crafts: Get creative with your loved one and hit the Dollar Store! Michael and I love making cards for our family and friends, and all the materials needed are found right at our local dollar store! Another craft that you can learn together is the art of origami, which only requires paper, your hands and patience. You can also find tons of DIY projects that cost less than $5 on Pinterest!

  • Museum: If you’ve read my previous post, I’ve mentioned about the Royal Ontario Museum. The ROM is free to post-secondary students every Tuesday with a valid student ID card. The museum has tons of interesting things to look at and makes for a great date filled with appreciation for art and history. I would recommend eating beforehand as the prices in there tend to be on the pricey side!
  • Hiking and Biking: If the both of you have a love for nature and physical activity, then a visit to your local park for a day of hiking or biking would be perfect! Earl Bales Park has been a big part of my life, as I’ve had many of my family parties there as a child. I remember my cousins and I would go hiking, and nothing beat all the wonderful things we saw— from the animals to the amazing view of the gardens! There is also a pathway around the park for anyone with bikes or rollerblades to go through. Bring some spare change for the ice cream truck when it stops by! At the end of the day, you can sit on the ski lift hill and enjoy a beautiful sunset together.

Remember it’s not the money you spent, but the time you spend that really counts! Having a memorable date doesn’t require loads of money, but perhaps an open mind, a craving for adventure and some creativity! Even if you’re single, give these ideas a try with your friends or even on your own! (who said taking yourself out is a bad thing?) Let me know in the comments below if you try any of these dates out! What are your go-to places for dates? 


“Feminist” is not a bad word

There’s a weird paradox in many people when it comes to believing in something. On one hand, we whole-heartedly reaffirm and reiterate the points and opinions of the people who agree with us. We excitedly nod and say “God, yes,” all the while brimming with anticipation to share our own views with those who see it our way.

On the other hand, when among a crowd that thinks differently, it’s not such a fun time. Depending on how they are, you might just want to avoid stupid conflict. You might care immensely about what they think of you. Or, the word you use to identify with your cause might have been tarnished by misguided zealots. Thanks a lot.

Here’s where that final scenario applies: feminism, the asinine, deplorable belief that two genders should be treated equally by all and have a mutual respect for one another. Ha! Crazy.

Negative portrayals of feminism have run rampant through society for a very long time. Change scares people, and those who are comfy in the seat they’re in don’t want to consider other ideals. The opposition works tirelessly to smear this reputation so they can continue to stagnate in their beliefs.

But of course, it’s not some good against evil battle. This is real life, and there are plenty of reasons why the word “feminism” can automatically rub someone the wrong way. Sometimes people are just plain intimidated by a cause. It becomes a delicate balance, and the way one should teach someone about a cause should mirror the way everything is taught: start off small. You don’t teach math by jumping straight into quadratics. Sell ideals by telling the audience how they benefit from this. However, becoming frustrated when someone doesn’t immediately see what you’re seeing is a dangerously easy ditch to fall into.

These things and others all add up to the widely-held belief that feminists are all man-hating bra-burning lesbians. That’s become the go-to image for the apathetic citizen, and that’s the image that people against feminism want them to see.

Because of this, some people look around the room really quick before informing you they believe in gender equality. Being firm in your belief, yet having to hastily explain yourself is no way to be. Worse still, people will publicly announce they support all items present on the feminist agenda, and then claim not to be a feminist. Yeah, okay buddy. You live on earth and require oxygen and all that, but you’re not like, a carbon based lifeform or anything.

I’ve been through this. I had a (shamefully lengthy) point in time where I believed we were treated completely equally, and that women who complained about it were just whiny uptight girls. See that? See how that stereotype was a reality to me? Don’t do societies, kids.

Yes, I thought catcalls were compliments and that there was absolutely nothing wrong and that gender issues magically based themselves on nothing, I guess. I know why people have these ideas. While it sure is easy for me to point at nothing and exclaim “SOCIETY’S FAULT!” we have to remember that we are society. It does not exist without us. There are people behind these negative statements and detrimental ideas, so many real living people who have to worry about family and who love their pets and really would just like some time to relax. They’re not evil, they just don’t know or don’t care. That’s what they were raised on. David Wong, executive editor of Cracked, writes that “Nobody involved in a conflict thinks they’re the villain,” and the things David Wong writes are the realest things I’ve ever read. This idea is no different.

So, y’know, we are the future, break this terrible cycle, etc. You’ve heard these motivational go-get ’em things before. While being the change is a very nice thing to aspire to, it’s ultimately just your goal. Thats like motivating someone to climb Everest with “Get to the top!” That’s the idea, but like, rationing and climbing equipment and stuff.

It has to start with acceptance. You’re not supporting your cause if you don’t say it audibly and confidently. Being okay with yourself and this thing together is step one, and there is no physical way to skip step one.

So have you taken that first step yet? Do you have glorious ideas about how to shape the world for the better? Still too nervous to admit it to others? That’s okay if you are, though. I was too.

Tabitha Summerhayes is a full-time PR student at Humber College.

Noise from the basement: a producer’s untold story


By David Troya-Alvarez | music content writer | DamageControl7Media | April 12, 2015 

Electronic music production is an art form.

Synths, bass lines, and drum kicks. To the average music enthusiast, the different types of sounds you hear from a song are heard simultaneously with no regard to the smaller details that go into any form of music production. However, behind the scenes there are hours, days, and even weeks at a time spent creating any given song, as well as the untold story of the general struggles of being an underground producer. Every chart-topping producer and basement producer has gone through the struggles of being in the music industry. From the creative process, to the final mastering of their tracks, and everything in between, there is a story to be told with how they developed each sound.

This is one story.

Figure 1: 5MUT in his basement studio. Follow him on SoundCloud for exclusive releases –

From an early age, my siblings and I were classically trained on the piano. Our love of music began relatively early, and we would play recitals and concerts across the province. However, due to time constrictions as we each grew older, we could no longer continue with lessons and our love for music was left to whatever we learned over the years of lessons. Despite this, the passion for music continued to develop within the mind of my brother, Danny. From the age of 17, Danny began to experiment with FL Studios, an introductory software for music production. Little did he know, that his short sound loops would just mark the beginning for what has become a full-time ordeal to develop his on sound, and own stage persona known as “5MUT.

Long are the days of using his mother’s computer and introductory software to produce music. Now his equipment has expanded to using Logic Pro X software on his MacBook Pro, which contains a massive sound library known as Komplete Ultimate 9 by Native Instruments. These sounds get imported to a Maschine sequencer to sample drum loops, which in return get exported back to the software and out to the Yamaha HS80M speakers that fill the basement with noise. The final result leaves him with thousDSC06419ands of dollars of equipment that he has at his disposal to develop his own music productions. However, these tools are only the beginning of what becomes a wave of creative bubbles, moments of frustration, and immense satisfaction after finishing a track.

Like many other artists, the creative process is an ongoing wave of trying different sounds to produce something that works for their own intents and purposes. But what many music listeners don’t see is the ongoing thought process of what each sound makes a producer feel and how they managed to achieve any individual sound. Producers dissect individual sounds from each song they hear and use these sounds as inspiration to develop their own. A producer is left with having to go through thousands of different samples in their sound library and then emulate an idea in their mind, which is much easier said than done. Hours after hours are spent putting together a combination of sounds at different octaves, filters, and sound modulation. Loops are changed, synths are added, and drum progressions are developed to create hundreds of individual sounds that are laid out in a chaotic yet organized structure.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 11.11.10 PM
Figure 2: Take a listen to Scream Louder! – 5MUT

Now I know to many people these production terms may come off as a completely different language. However the end goal for many of these producers is very simple: to create an auditory experience for themselves, as well as their listeners. Like any form of art, be that musical, dance, or visual masterpieces, a producer communicates their own emotion with the audience by attempting to get them into the same mindset as they had while creating their art form.

For many producers trying to make it, there is no greater feeling than seeing reactions to their music online, or at a show they’re performing, or even their own family who listens to the sounds echo throughout the house. Most basement producers and DJs just want to be heard and could care less if they get money from their passionate hobby. They want you to have a musical experience, which makes their tough, long, and intense production process very worth it.

I ask you as a reader to continue to support your up-and-coming producers who are simply trying to share with the world their passion for music just the way my brother began his: with software, and a dream.

Who are your favourite basement producers? If you have any, please share their content in the comments section below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR                                                                       

David Troya-Alvarez

10403929_10152841526928574_7852095747435131359_oDavid is an electronic music enthusiast with pride in his city. His passion for music has led him to explore all genre variations of the electronic dance music world. While trained as a classical musician, his interests in music go far beyond harmonic and melodic structure, as they focus into the next generation of electronic productions that are evolving day after day.

Streaming Services: The “Saviour” of the Music Industry

Streaming Services: the “saviour” of the music industry

Rick Henriques is a first year public relations student at Humber College. Henriques’ interests include pop culture, music and radio.

The Internet has created a cyberspace in which pirating a song requires nothing more than a couple of clicks and a few keystrokes. In a world where everything is turning digital, it is no surprise that CDs are on the verge of becoming obsolete.

Don’t report me to the authorities, but as a student I’m not necessarily the first person to be legally purchasing my music. If I have an iTunes gift card I have no problem paying for music; otherwise, I’m sticking to SoundCloud and Youtube

According to Nielsen SoundScan, physical album sales in 2014 have marked as the lowest year since 1991 with a 14.9 per cent decline in sales from the previous year. “Sales have been going in the wrong direction all year,” says an anonymous record label executive. “I guess it’s overdue, when you look at the growth of streaming.”

digital  and physical album sales
A chart comparing the decline of both digital and physical album sales within the past seven years. 

Fortunately, streaming services have arrived to save the music industry. In 2014 alone, the total number of streams rose 54 per cent to 164 billion songs. In comparison, CD sales have declined by 47.9 million units. However, CDs account for a larger royalty as opposed to a streamed song; nevertheless, streaming has not even reached its peak yet, with an expected growth of 400 per cent within the next three years.

As someone who aspires to work in the music industry, knowing that streaming services are saving the music business.

Streaming services are separated into three categories:

Statutory: A service with a fixed number of streams; however, statutory services are subject to federal regulations. An example of this is Pandora Radio.

Ad-based: A streaming service that generates its revenue from advertisements. YouTube and VEVO are prime examples.

Subscription: Streaming services which require a monthly subscription; these services are free of federal regulation. Both Spotify and Beats Music are examples of a subscription streaming service.

Pharrel Williams, Happy, Spotify
Pharrel Williams’ single “Happy” received over 10 million streams in one week on Spotify. 

The profits are measured on streaming services via the average revenue per user (ARPU). As of now, digital broadcasters pay differing royalty rates, depending on whether the audience controls the content or not. For an interactive service, such as Spotify, the royalties are contracted privately with the record label. Otherwise, they are considered non-interactive services and the royalties are divided by SoundExchange. Fifty per cent of the streaming profit goes to the record label, 45 per cent to the featured artist and the remaining five percent is the cut that SoundExchange takes for its services.

With the rise of a cheaper, more accessible service to download music, the ARPU of iTunes dropped to $1.90 per month from $4.30. To contrast, Spotify’s ARPU is $3.40 per month.

beats music, dr dre, interscope, jimmy lovine
Beats Music was co-founded by rapper and hip hop producer Dr. Dre and Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine. 

With this information, it comes as no surprise that Apple has recently closed a $3 billion deal to obtain Beats Music and Beats Electronics in an attempt to remain a key market player in the music industry.

However, not everybody is a fan of streaming. Taylor Swift refuses to have her music published on an “experimental website” like Spotify, due to the insignificant profit she would receive of her “life’s work” compared to physical album sales.

taylor swift, best selling
Taylor Swift remains one of the top female artist in terms of sales.

This decision is understandable for Swift, considering her last three albums have sold over a million in their opening week. As an artist who made history during a 14-year deficit in her respective industry, it is a smart move on her part.

The prominence of streaming services has made record charts such as Billboard and Official UK Charts to count streams, as well as single and album sales towards rankings.

What is your opinion regarding streaming services?

The Internet: saviour of the music industry?

By David Troya-Alvarez | Music Content Writer | DamageControl7Media | March 24, 2015

 CDs are dead.music_art_best-374776

To many this is no longer a shock, but the reality is that we live in a digital world and are further pushing ourselves away from content we can physically touch. There was once a time when music would have to be obtained exclusively from a record store, in which you would have to physically travel to and from the store, browse through all the different available records, and finally purchase a record, sometimes without even being able to hear it until you got home to see if you even like it. Now, anyone can download an entire album within minutes, browse through content rapidly to see if they even enjoy it, and finally be able to have thousands of songs on devices smaller than a wallet. However, piracy has been one of biggest issues in the music industry as record labels are finding it difficult to generate sales due to a majority of their content being posted online for free from pirate websites. With that being said, how can we save the already suffering music industry?

Now I know what you’re thinking. There is no denying the fact of the ever-growing problem of piracy has made us forget about spending around $10 on an album, and instead we can now download virtually anything for free just by doing a quick search. However, the Internet has managed to create something worth more than physical sales, and has instead created hype. Our society focuses on viral content that gets shared rapidly to millions across the world, and the music industry has caught on.

Figure 1: Album cover of Drake’s 4th mixtape – “If You’re Reading This Its Too Late” – 2015 – Click to listen on Spotify

One of the more recent examples of Internet hype is the latest release of Toronto’s very own, Drake. Dubbed as a mix tape, Drake released “If You’re Reading This Its Too Late” this past February through iTunes with no prior announcement. The result? The Web went wild with everyone trying to get their hands on the new release and ultimately resulted in 495,000 sold copies in only three days. In addition, the album managed to achieve several accolades such as being number one on the US Billboard 200 list, as well as number one in Canadian Albums (Billboard). On top of all of that, Drake managed to chart 14 songs simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100; a record that was unmatched for 51 years by the Beatles.

So what does this prove? This stunt proved that a physical release does not hold as much value as hype due to the fact that you can’t actually buy hype. Hype is word of mouth, or a shock factor that goes against a normal practice, and Drake managed to do just that. By using the Internet to his advantage, Drake managed to capitalize on spontaneity, and also by the fact that no one had a copy to pirate online yet, which resulted in massive sales upon the initial release of the album.

Now to many already established artists, this stunt can be fantastic as it has been for Drake. However, for new artists this can be a nightmare due to the massive costs of creating their own professional productions, as well as the overwhelming amounts of competition from already established artists. So, how can the Internet increase the exposure for those trying to make a name for themselves as artists?

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 10.05.58 PM
Figure 2: Deadmau5 tweeting that he got paid $800,000 for a DJ set at Ultra Music Festival 2014 in Miami – CLICK FOR MORE

In the electronic dance music world, music producers have managed to capitalize on the fact that anyone can make music. Producers such as Nicky Romero, Martin Garrix, Avicci and even Toronto’s very own Deadmau5 have managed to become known worldwide by originally creating their first productions from software available for free online. FL Studios, which is a music production software, has been major entry point for many of these producers, and many of them managed to release chart-smashing songs that were created in their own bedroom. For them, sharing their content online has managed to grab the attention of record labels and has resulted in their ongoing success as DJ’s and producers in the music industry. Some producers, such as Griz, have stuck to only releasing music online for free, and relying on shows to generate their income. Now this may seem like a bold move, but many producers play countless shows around and get paid anywhere from several hundred thousand to over a million dollars for a DJ set. To believe some of these artists were simply people just like you and me making some beats in their bedroom for fun.

Now I’m not saying that the Internet is a permanent solution to solving all of the music industry’s problems. However, the Internet is merely a gateway for allowing artists to share their content fast by creating online hype, and for new artists to share their new projects to potential audiences all over the world.

So the question remains, is the music industry failing because of the fact that we can find anything on the Internet for free? Or is the music industry growing due to fact that content can be shared online.

Please share your comments below!



David Troya-Alvarez

10403929_10152841526928574_7852095747435131359_oDavid is an electronic music enthusiast with pride in his city. His passion for music has led him to explore all genre variations of the electronic dance music world. While trained as a classical musician, his interests in music go far beyond harmonic and melodic structure, as they focus into the next generation of electronic productions that are evolving day after day.

Who are “indies” and why are they responsible for your favourite smash hits?

Rick Henriques is a first year public relations student at Humber College. Henriques’ interests include pop culture, music and radio.

“Radio sells records. Period,” says Grammy Award winning American record producer and music industry executive Clive Davis. Music reaches more people every week through radio than any other medium; American census reveals that over 92 per cent of all US consumers listen to the radio every week making it the most widely spread advertising and promotional tool in existence today, surpassing magazines, TV and the Internet.

With these numbers in mind, it is no surprise that all gold or platinum-certified singles and albums have had success on the radio. Evidently, music promoters and radio stations work hand in hand to create success for the music industry and it’s artists.

Katy Perry, Pop Music, Radio, Billboard, Record
A video still from Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” which dominated the U.S Charts for 46 weeks – which resulted in a world record.

Record labels and radio stations work together to create superstars and achieve platinum albums. But how do certain smash hits dominate the radio without prevalence? Take for example, Magic’s “Rude.”

Perhaps the reason for this is a loophole surrounding payola. Payola is the illegal practice of payment or bribery by record labels in exchange for the broadcast of music on the radio in which is presented as part of the regular day’s broadcast. Essentially, it is a pay for play scenario.

A radio station may accept money in exchange for airplay; however, the plays must be disclosed as sponsored on the air and it cannot be counted towards regular airplay. Of course, a record label would have no problem financing their own artists to the top of the charts, but business isn’t always fair.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment has faced lots of heat for using payola to support artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Avril Lavigne and Maroon 5.

Jennifer Lopez, Billboard Music Award, Icon Award
Jennifer Lopez’s famous track, “I’m Real” owes its success to payola.

But if payola is illegal, how are hits receiving such massive airplay? Record labels, needing to promote their artists, of course, hire independent record promoters, also known as indies. The job of an indie is to get the songs that their clients, record labels, want on the playlists of radio stations across the country. Indies are the third-party loophole for record labels to avoid payola.

An indie approaches a radio station manager or owner and offers an annual payment between $75,000 to $100,000 per year for promotional support, as well as giving the station money, gift cards, prepaid visas, vacations or gifts of other forms.

Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass, Radio, Viral, Top 40
A video still from Meghan Trainor’s viral single, “All About That Bass”, which brought made her an instant sensation for Top 40 radio.

In exchange, the radio station adds songs the indie recommends to their playlists. The indie then contacts the record label to notify them of the agreement with the station and charges the record label $1,000 fee for every song the indie recommends to the station. For major singles, record labels pay indies anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000.

Thus unravels the mystery behind hits that just seem to never get off the radio. “Uptown Funk!”, “Take Me To Church”, “Fancy” and many other great records all have something in common. They were all catchy hits that seem to have exploded to the top of the charts out of nowhere.

Personally, I admire the impact that independent record promoters have in both the radio and music industry; however, I do not believe that the use of payola or indies is ethical. The music industry has already taken a hit in profits during the digital age due to pirating, not to mention that the industry has deteriorated its relationship with music junkies through extreme lawsuits. Both indies and payola further the disconnect trust between music lovers and the respective industries.

Can you think of any other top hits that might have had a nudge to reach the top of the charts? Leave a comment below!

Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke

Domestic violence is a serious concern and sometimes life-threatening situation that countless women in Canada face each and every day. Every six days a woman is killed by an abusive partner. So you say to yourself, “well I don’t know anyone who has been abused so why should this matter to me?”. Well, roughly 67 percent of Canadians know a woman who has been a victim of dadfomestic violence. Even if you don’t know anyone personally, chances are your mother, your sister or your friends do.Women in abusive relationships often feel ashamed, embarrassed or afraid to seek help or even share their story. The Women’s Habitat is a judgement-free facility that helps women experiencing all forms of domestic violence. By providing both in-house and outreach assistance, The Women’s Habitat gives victims the tools they need to rebuild their self-esteem, establish their future and heal from their past.


Seeing first-hand the impact that abuse has on a woman has opened my eyes to how crucial these services are. Violence against women does not discriminate against race, age or socioeconomic status. Shelters provide a safe haven for all those affected. Being a small shelter, the women’s habitat often struggles with over capacitation, however, they are committed to protecting all women and will never turn down someone in need. Their dedication to protecting the vulnerable has impacted the lives of hundreds of women in the community.


In Canada, 1 in 5 women experiences some form of domestic violence. And in 2014 my sister became that one. Each day I am thankful that my sister had her local women’s shelter offer support and give her tWOMEN-HOLDING-HANDShe courage and resources to leave her toxic relationship. Please help support The Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke in giving other women the strength they need to end their cycle of domestic violence.


Donations to The Women’s Habitat help fund the necessary programs and services needed to help victims and their families. Your contributions can help save a life and improve the future of women within our community. For more information about The Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke please click here.


Click here to make a donation to The Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke.

Three ways you can make a difference for your local women’s shelter

At any given night over 6,000 women and children in Canada sleep in a women’s shelter to escape abuse. Most shelters are equipped with both in-house and outreach services and programs to help women dealing with abuse find their strength again. Many shelters in Canada, even ones in your own community struggle with obtaining basic necessities to provide to victims and their children. There are so many ways you can help make a difference for your local women’s shelter that does not involve making a monetary donation. Take a look at three ways you can help make a difference for your local women’s shelter and improve the lives and future for women and children experiencing abuse.

Build a shelter kits

Attempting to flee from an abusive relationship dangerous and in some cases life-threatening. Victims may not have the time to pack items, or they may not be able to take much with them. Building a shelter kit is a great way to support your local shelter by providing them with basic necessities for the women and child who use their services. If you are unsure of exactly what to put in your kit, check out your local women’s shelter website. You may be able to find a list of specific items that your local shelter needs. Their website may also clearly explain what items they accept and what items they will not. Here is a list of common items that shelters ask for:

  • Diapers and wipes
  • Pads and tampons
  • Cosmetics and nail polish
  • Socks
  • Toiletries
  • Gas cards
  • Pyjamas
  • Bras

TIP: Make sure to check with your local shelter before donating any new or gently used clothing. Due to limited space, some shelters may not accept these items.

The magic of makeup

The effects of abusive leave women feeling broken. They lose all sense of self-worth and their self-esteem. Although it may not seem like much, makeup is a way to give women some added confidence and make them feel more comfortable. It can also increase a women’s confidence when attending job interviews and can just give her the boost she needs to start getting back on track and reach her goals.

Donate your time

Let’s face it – not everyone is comfortable donating money, and that’s okay. Another great way you can help out local women’s shelter is to donate some of your time. Many shelters host events and information sessions and require the assistance of volunteers. Others seek volunteers to help with cooking, event planning, programming, child care and much more. Again, check in with your local shelter and see what they are looking for and how you can help. sc

Educate yourself and share your knowledge with others

One of the easiest ways to help your local shelter is to educate yourself. Get familiar with their services and programs and use what you learn to help educate other people in your community. The more educated you are the more you will be able to help those around you seek the help they need. Social media is a great way to get involved in the discussion and connect with victims and hear their stories. Sometimes it can be difficult to connect to an issue when you haven’t experienced it first-hand. Even if you never personally experience domestic abuse, it could affect someone you know. Be prepared and stay informed.

Every contribution matters

These were just gnfa few ways you can help make a difference. Share your donation story or idea in the comments below. I would love to hear from you! Tried out one of these ideas? Share it on social media using #WeStandTogether. For more information on local Toronto women’s shelters and to make a donation to The Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke click here.




Five reasons why you should get up and dance!

Eloisa Jane Mariano is a third-year bachelor of public relations student at Humber College.

Everyone does it and you can do it just about anywhere. That’s a fact.

You can dance in your living room, on the dancefloor, or even do a little happy dance at the grocery store. You don’t even need equipment or professional dancing skills to dance! So there is truly no excuse to say no when your friends ask you to bust a move on the dance floor! In case you need extra encouragement, here are five reasons why you should get up and dance:


  1. It’s a great way to exercise (without actually feeling like you’re exercising!)
    Dancing is a great way to burn calories, build muscle and increase your daily activity. The best part about dancing is that you barely even realize how many steps you’ve taken or how many muscles you’re stimulating because you’re too busy having fun! If you find yourself having a hard time stepping off the dance floor, it’s a great way to motivate yourself to spend a good amount of time getting your body active! Go ahead, shake it off!
  2. It’s a great way to express how you ~truly~ feel
    It’s not called a “happy dance” for nothing! Dancing is a great way to express yourself. Whether you finally finished that project you’ve been working on since forever or you’ve crossed another item off your bucket list (climb a [rock] mountain… check!) you can’t help but do a little dance to express just HOW happy you are! Alternatively, you can also use dance to cope with feelings of anger or sadness through dance as well! By the end of it, you will definitely feel a little better once you’ve expressed yourself in a healthy way!
  3. It can also help boost your mood
    In those times where you don’t feel super happy (let’s say a break up), it’s common for your friends to suggest going out to dance. There is a good reason for it too! When you dance, you release endorphins which improve your mood. So if you’re ever feeling down, put on some music that you love and get groovin’!
  4. It’s a fun activity to do with your friends (or that special someone)
    giphy (1)
    When you go dancing with your friends, everyone is bound to have a great time! Dancing by yourself amongst strangers can be pretty intimidating but when you’re with someone you trust and feel comfortable with, you feel happier and focus on having fun! You stop caring what others may think of that weird dance move you do (no judgement, everyone has one!) and you end up having ~the time of your life.~
  5. It’s good for your health
    Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 8.30.06 PM
    Dancing is a fun, great way to increase activity and mood, but it also has really great health components too! Amongst these benefits, you also reduce stress and your risk of getting heart disease or stroke. Until April 20th, you can challenge yourself and your friends to dance for 20 seconds every day for 20 days to significantly improve your health! For more information about this challenge, visit CanadaHelps and get dancin’!

#ChangetheStigma campaign in support of Addiction and Mental Health

AMHO Breaks the Stigma with Social Media Campaign


TORONTO, ON: A third party partner working with Addictions and Mental Health Ontario is launching a social media campaign in hopes of raising awareness on the negative effects stigmas have on people recovering from addiction disorders. The social media campaign will launch on Tuesday, April 3, 2018.

The social media campaign set to launch is called #ChangeTheStigma. The campaign requires participants to create an individual or group video of themselves breaking a stereotype that may be associated with something they identify with. Upon creating and sharing the video participants are encouraged to invite others to create videos of their own or donate to the Change the Story initiative related to the same charity.  AMHO’s third party partner hopes the campaign will kick start the fundraising goal of $50,000, which is planned to be achieved within a year.  The donations will be used to help AMHO invest in making addiction and mental health services more accessible to those who need it. “I want to help create a change in how we view people with addiction disorder, rather than focusing on what they’ve done, I’d like to focus on what they can do with our community support,” expressed third party supporter; Tesha Moncrieffe.

Addictions and Mental Health Ontario’s goal is to continue to break the barriers that stigma creates for people trying to recover from addiction disorder. AMHO believes by starting conversations that focus on seeing people as more than their addictions, they can help change someone’s story by supporting opportunities for counselling, peer support, residential treatment, withdrawal management, supportive

housing and hospital based programs.  AMHO is committed to supporting mental health organizations create initiatives for better care.

Corporate Information 

Addictions and Mental Health Ontario represents over 200 community based, not-for profit addictions and mental health organizations across Ontario.  AMHO engages with partners to improve the well-being of individuals, families in Ontario living with adduction and other disorders.

For more information on Addictions and Mental Health Ontario visit:

Kirtesha Moncrieffe                                                                                                                              Public Relations Student                                                                                                                        (647) 227-4610




Campaign Summary


Addictions and Mental Health Ontario is a Toronto based charity that is committed to supporting programs and initiatives that can help support people living with addiction and other mental health disorders.  By creating a social media campaign that centers around stigmas/stereotypes and having people break them, this will reiterate AMHO’s key message; that people are more than their labels when given the opportunity show it.  The goal of the social media campaign is to increase traffic to the CanadaHelps: Change the Story initiative, as well as create conversation of how stigmas have prevented people from supporting others with addiction disorders

The Campaign

The idea behind this campaign is that in order to help recovering addicts change their story, there must first be a change in stigma, this this online campaign is called #ChangeTheStigma.  People can participate by creating and posting a 1-2 minute video of themselves using the #ChangeTheStigma hashtag. The video must consist of an individual or group telling/showing their online community something about themselves that goes against a stereotype that the participant may be associated with. The final call to action of the video will be to pass on the challenge to two other people by encouraging them to make a video as well or donate.


A Facebook page will be created in order to act as the main information page for the campaign. The Facebook page will have a brief paragraph in the description explaining the negative effects stigmas have on people recovering from addiction disorder. The paragraph will conclude by explaining how using donations to invest in job opportunities and programs will increase the chance of permanent recovery, but first the barrier of stigma needs to be changed to encourage support.

Links to the CanadaHelps: Change the Story initiative, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube will also be available on the Facebook page. Twitter and Instagram are great for propelling hashtags as well as tracking and monitoring the growth of the hashtag, whereas Facebook and Youtube are great tools for sharability. All four of these platforms can be used to benefit the visibility of the campaign.

The cover image of the Facebook page will be an image that quickly articulates in a 3 step process how one can participate in the #ChangeTheStigma online campaign.

The first post on the page will be a video of myself thanking people in advance for participating and sharing videos in support of the campaign, as well as thanking those who donated. The rest of the video will be me participating in the challenge.


Call to Action Page








Being a part of the new future to help rebuild childhoods

In our lives, we are all faced with challenges. These situations can sometimes stop us from living our lives and enjoying the moments around us. If we are lucky, these problems and situations may not fully hit us until we are adults who have lived a little longer and have had time to enjoy certain moments. Sometimes, there are those who are not so lucky. Every day the hallways at SickKids are filled with unlucky souls who are fighting to get their lives back so they can enjoy their days. Heroes fighting the good fight so that they can get back to a life they can truly call a childhood.

I motivate myself to live each day to the fullest. Seize the day! Carpe Diem! But as much as I wanted to do nothing but be outside living it up, life had a different plan for me at the age of four. When I was a kid, my days playing outside and jumping on a trampoline were cut short when I became a patient at SickKids. Countless appointments and multiple trips back and forth changed my life in ways that most wouldn’t understand. The hospital and the work that the doctors did, helped me to get my life back.

The SickKids Foundation knows who it is fighting for. It is fighting for the boys and girls who are spending their days in hospital beds, when they should be laughing on a playground. They are fighting for these strong, brave and determined heroes, who want to be better and healthier. The foundation understands that they too have to be bold and brave like the heroes they are supporting. They do this by making a fundraising goal bigger than any other in Canadian health care history. Why? Because it matters.

In 1949, some 87,000 donors were a part of the experience when SickKids first opened its doors. Now, there is an opportunity to relive history and make it better. Once upon a time, the people of Toronto came together, and how we can do it again. The chance to rebuild a new SickKids is an opportunity of a lifetime. It is the opportunity to change the future of children’s health, and you can be a part of it. SickKids needs to build a hospital that fits the work it is doing for the heroes within its walls, and as members of the community we can all come together to help make this happen.

When I was a patient, I remember the big, scary machines that they used to conduct tests. Forget about the 1940s; since the 1990s, medical treatments and have transformed. The hospital has been a world leader for so long because of its innovation and determination to provide state-of-the-art technology and facilities. All of this is to ensure that the patients like myself, are treated in the best possible way, with the best possible tools. Because when you are four years old, you deserve to get the best help possible.

Each year, there are roughly 60,000 patients who come to SickKids. I was once one of them. Maybe you know someone who was one, or had a child or close family member who was helped by the work done at SickKids.

There is something special about seeing a building and thinking: “I helped make that. I helped get that there.” Every day, there is a boy or girl who wants to be playing a sport, or running around outside or just sleep in their own room but can’t. SickKids is working to get them there. They have been for so many years. I was lucky to not have an illness that was life-threatening. As an adult, I now see the protocols, the tests and the rules, but as a kid, SickKids made sure I only saw the magic and the positivity. It helped me to get my life back and now I can help the next patient. As a person who was once sleeping in the walls of the hospital, it is amazing that I could be a part of the new SickKids. A place that will help redefine children’s health care. SickKids gave me my life back, and together we can give back the lives of many more.


Daniel Ruccella is a student at Humber College in the bachelor of public relations program.

Five reasons why group therapy is becoming more popular

The power is in the numbers


Photo provided by Pexels

Initially, the idea of sitting in a circle with a group of total strangers talking about your problems sounds intimidating, but studies have shown that group therapy yields the same positive results as one-on-one therapy. And more people are discovering why.

Medical professionals at the American Psychology Association have done extensive research on the benefits of group therapy for individuals struggling with their mental health and addiction, and are pinpointing the elements that make group therapy so successful.

The rise of mental health awareness in our society has helped to push the needle forward while decreasing the stigma surrounding mental illness. More of us are opening up about personal traumas, struggles and are seeking alternatives to one-on-one therapy.

Charities like Al-Anon/Alateen offer global programs of recovery to family and friends of alcoholics. The program is specifically designed to bring individuals struggling with similar issues together, and this has a very positive impact on the recovery process.


picforNFPPhoto taken from the American Psychology Association’s website

Psychotherapist Ali Miller, a family therapist from the Bay Area details some of the benefits of group therapy for mental health treatment 

  1. Groups support each other:Hearing from other individuals with similar stories lets you know that you’re not alone in your struggles. Group therapy reduces isolation and promotes the theme that “we’re all in this together”, and encourages a sense of belonging.
  2. Groups help you reflect: People in group therapy support one another and encourage each other to be open about their struggles, while giving honest feedback. They help you learn to identify negative or destructive behaviours and how to avoid them in the future.
  3. Groups can improve social skills: The group setting is a great place to test new social techniques on other individuals in a safe and comfortable setting. Participating in group therapy can arguably reduce the anxiety around socializing with others. It also helps to reduce the feeling of isolation that many feel when they are faced with depression, anxiety, or addictions problems.
  4. Group therapy is cheaper: Some people believe that because group therapy isn’t as expensive as traditional therapy, it’s not as good. However, the research shows that group therapy is efficient and has the same positive impact as one-on-one therapy.
  5. Groups help you relate to others in a healthier way: Groups provide the opportunity to see how others relate to each other and themselves by examining behaviours and digesting the honest opinions from other members.In addition to finding the right support systems, and strengthening relationship skills, group therapy is beneficial for people struggling with addictions, depression, and anxiety.
    Remember: if it’s mentionable, it’s manageable.

    If you are interested in learning more about Al-Anon/Alateenclick here
    If you’re looking to attend an Al-Anon/Alateen meetingclick here
    Or if you would like to make a donation to the Al-Anon/Alateen organization, visit 

    Stephanie Patrice Ahlborn is a third-year bachelor of public relations student at Humber College. She is currently fundraising for Al-Anon Family Groups, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing education and emotional support to the families of alcoholics.

The superhero myth: Why many moms don’t ask for help — and why they should

mom-2010524_1920.pngIt’s no secret that raising a child is a difficult task. Haven’t we all heard that it “takes a village?”

Equally familiar is the depiction of mothers as superheroes. Able to conquer household chores, attend PTA meetings and work full-time jobs without breaking a sweat, the image of the modern-day mom is that of an unstoppable force capable of doing it all.

But, the truth is, everyone needs support from time to time; no one can truly “do it all.” Unfortunately, when it comes to the challenge of raising a family, many mothers find it difficult to ask for help. Why is that?

For many moms, feelings of embarrassment and shame are the main reason they don’t ask for help. They fear they’ll be a burden to others and worry what people will think of them if they open up about their struggles. For others, the reason is pride. They see other moms (supposedly) succeeding at doing it all and feel that to ask for help would be to admit that they have “failed.”

Now, I am not a mother. But, as the oldest of three children raised in a single-parent home, I’ve witnessed just how challenging child rearing can be. Fortunately, I’ve also seen the impact of an act of kindness, be it from a family member, a friend or a complete stranger.

When a mom asks for and receives help, her entire family benefits. Growing up, it was a truly special moment when someone stepped in to lend a hand because it meant for a few hours, I could step out of the “unofficial parent” role and just be a kid.

From the family friends who helped out when my mom gave birth to my youngest brother to the neighbours who babysat when she worked overnight shifts, many people have contributed to my family’s growth over the years. But none of that would have been possible if my mom hadn’t taken the necessary first step of asking for help.

I realise that asking for help is only half the battle. While friends and family are a wonderful source of support for some, not everyone has that sort of network available to them. Add in the fact that three-quarters of families in Toronto say they can’t afford licensed child care and it becomes clear that many mothers have limited options for assistance.

The Nanny Angel Network

When I first learned about the Nanny Angel Network, I was immediately moved by its mission. The organization, which is based in the GTA, provides free, in-home childcare for children whose mothers have been diagnosed with cancer. The Nanny Angel Network encourages moms to ask for the help they need, lessening their burden of balancing child-care commitments and cancer treatments.

It truly does take a village to raise a child and we can each play a role in that village. Even if we can’t help someone directly, we can still make a difference by supporting organizations like the Nanny Angel Network that are working to help those who need it the most.

What does asking for help mean to you? I’d love to hear your stories about the difference someone’s generosity has made in your life, or the difference you’ve made in someone else’s. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you’d like to help a family in need, you can do so by making a donation to the Nanny Angel Network here.

Tureisha Hamlet is a third-year student in the bachelor of public relations program at Humber College.