On October 5, Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School grade 11 student Cierrah Warnick was recognized with the Spirit of Hope Award by St. Joseph Healthcare for her dedication in supporting her peers who struggle with mental health.
The award was presented to Warnick at the St. Joseph Healthcare's Mental Health Morning and honoured individuals and groups in Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand and Brant communities who advocate, build awareness, reduce stigma or provide support for mental health.
Founded six years ago, the morning provides an opportunity for guests to share in an open discussion surrounding mental health and addiction with the intent of ending stigma and raising funds for proper care.
For Warnick, proper care starts at the school level which is why she helped establish F.R.E.E. (Fostering Respect, Equality, and Experience) – Bishop Ryan’s first LGBTQ group.
“Cierrah is a compassionate, caring and supportive individual, particularly for those who may be ostracized by others,” said Principal Emidio Piccioni.
Even more remarkable is her ability to emphasize with and empower her peers with words of advice and support based on her own experiences with depression and anxiety, said Teacher Christina Scarpetta.
“Her openness to personal struggle, passion for life and, ultimately, conviction for what she believes in culminate to create a strong, young person whose character is influential. Not only to other youth struggling with mental health, but to everyone she meets.”
Bringing a voice to those most vulnerable, Cierrah was also chosen by staff at Bishop Ryan to be a student representative for the Board’s Secondary Student Mental Health Forum which sought input of the needs of secondary students.
“Her courage, ability to connect with people and her willingness to share and be there for others make her an exceptional person and an outstanding Catholic role model for others in our BR community,” said Piccioni.
“When we talk of a ‘Caring Celtic,’ Cierrah Warnick is the person we envision.”
According to St. Joseph Healthcare, "one in four Canadians will experience a mental illness or addiction in their lifetime, and each and everyone one of us will be touched by it in some way."
Individuals like Cierrah are working to change that.
Congratulations, Cierrah, and thank you for advocating for mental health.