As we welcome Spring and approach the end of another school year, do you know what that looks like for the students in your life? It means that some students are moving onto a new grade, with new teachers and harder lessons. It also means that some students are moving onto a new school, starting grade 9 or making some changes.
For one specific cohort of students, this time of year is not just transitional – it is life changing.
Grade 12 students are leaving what they have known for 14 years of their lives and moving onto bigger things. For a lot of grade 12 graduates, that looks like a difficult and daring jump into post-secondary education. Considering the past few years of uncertainty, change, and catch-up that students have handled throughout waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, this transitional time also brings a lot of stress. A local entrepreneur and mental-health advocate, Devin Golets, is putting impressive work into changing the narrative to provide support, community, and a stress-free experience for students transitioning to post-secondary school with his recently launched venture, Tailwind.
Tailwind is a program-based product that prepares students for the transition into college or university and can be accessed by students and their parents, or licensed by schools, and is currently being used in a selection of high schools, colleges, and universities across Canada. Created by a team of health professionals, higher-education professionals, and current post-secondary students, the Tailwind program can be implemented through schools to provide curated support to their students and allow for a smoother and healthier transition into what has historically been a difficult time for the mental health of students.
According to the Persistence in Post-Secondary Education in Canada report, about 14 per cent of first-year post-secondary students drop out, and mental health has a lot to do with it. Through Tailwind’s on-demand, asynchronous 6-stage program, students develop a proactive mindset and plan to have a successful and healthy first year, while immediately reducing stress, receiving support, and gaining confidence in their fall plans. Users also get free access to Tailwind’s How to Finance Post-Secondary interactive guide, developed in partnership with Wealthsimple.
The value of a program like this is indescribable, as the conversation about mental health continues and the data shows increases in stress, anxiety, and depression in today’s youth. The Tailwind team has implemented data collection and support through their programming that allows for information gathering on real-time issues, including the students’ opinions and preferences regarding how they want to solve them. When working with schools 1:1, this allows Tailwind to organically harness student and parent perspectives to create ongoing tailored mental health programming and support. When polled, 100% of parents whose children’s high school had implemented the Tailwind program said that they were happy that students had access to Tailwind to help with their mental health. The Tailwind team has also explored and identified the key concerns for today’s students – academic stress, addiction to social media, anxiety, and depression. These are common and worrisome implications for young students who struggle to find guidance on how to move forward.
When asked, students requested more support with time management and studying, more education on implementing healthier habits for stress relief, and more direct navigation of how exactly they were going to handle leaving high school. Tailwind asked all participants, including parents, students, school staff, and post-secondary students how and when they wanted to receive support and be communicated with – and they built Tailwind from the real-life experiences of those it is built for. With accessibility to make the Tailwind content custom for each individual educational institution, as well as access to valuable insights and data from participating students, the on-the-ground data collection was beautifully molded into real-time, accessible, and most of all, stress-free support for students to help make them healthier.
“The goal is to be proactive,” says Golets. “Preparing students in advance, instead of only intervening during their almost inevitable mental health crises, is much more prudent and ethically responsible. Our program enables post-secondary institutions to listen properly and build resilience into their students’ lives, before they even arrive on campus.”
With an eternal focus on making Tailwind a different and positive experience for students, Golets continues to learn, grow, and innovate alongside generations of students experiencing an unprecedented time. Preparedness has been a virtue to the students, staff, and schools who are already implementing Tailwind technology into the lives of their graduating students. Golets’ prioritization of the students over all other aspects of his venture is what will set Tailwind up for exciting success. The innovation and implementation of Tailwind is not only an impressive venture to see emerging from Southwestern Ontario, but truly a life-altering one for the future of our academic world.
With the official launch of Tailwind as an active user experience in April, Tailwind is giving a free membership to the first 10,000 students who sign up. “The program’s goal is to fulfill what we call the three C’s: Connection, competence, and choice”, says Golets, “We want these students to feel ready and able to make this life change and truly focus on the education, relationships, and experiences that they gain in post-secondary school, and not have to worry about their mental health”
London International Academy (LIA), a local London high school, is launching a pilot program with Tailwind this spring.
“The program is super easy to navigate, and we’re excited to see the conversations that come from it,” said Tyler MacDouell, Guidance Counselor at LIA.
To learn more about how you can sign up as a student, parent, or implement it into your post-secondary institution or high school, go to www.teamtailwind.ca.