When Weinberg senior Jem Feuilladieu was a freshman, he dreamt of Black Northwestern students “thriving” rather than just “surviving” on campus.
This fall, they founded the Black Health and Wellness Collaborative to bring those dreams to fruition.
According to its mission statement, BHWC aims to provide a space of discourse, support and resources for Black students. The club’s weekly meetings at the Black House include discussion spaces, workshops on topics like the history of Black mental health and collaborations with organizations like the Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators and the Center for Awareness, Response and Education.
After noticing the stigmatization of Black mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, Feuilladieu floated the idea for BHWC to a group chat of Black NU students in the spring.
“My goal was just to create a community,” they said. “I didn’t have too many specifics in mind about what I wanted that to look like, but I wanted a space where we could have support and Black joy.”
SESP senior Nala Bishop said she responded immediately to Feuilladieu’s message, and the two of them worked throughout the spring and summer with other interested students to build the organization.
As the organization’s queer and trans director, Bishop works to prioritize the mental health of Black queer and trans students.
“It’s still being molded into the role that I envision, but right now (it looks like) being a really good support system,” Bishop said.
Bishop hopes to partner the group with Howard Brown Health and smallWORLD Collective, two Chicago-based organizations rooted in supporting queer and trans people.
The executive board, led by co-Chairs Feuilladieu and Weinberg senior Nathalie Boadi, works together to plan meetings, which Feuilladieu said usually draw between seven and 13 people.
Feuilladieu said BHWC plans to continue holding discussions and workshops, including a potential Spirituality and Wellness Fair during Winter Quarter.
Weinberg junior and Curriculum Development and Marketing Chair Joelle Moore proposes and curates meeting themes. Moore also manages the club’s social media, which includes weekly infographics about topics like myths and facts surrounding ADHD.
“All of the meetings are my favorites, just because people are showing up and they’re talking about things,” Moore said. “I haven’t really been in a space like this before, where people as a collective are so willing to be vulnerable and to share things that have affected them.”
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