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When a young man named Jack, while a student at Queen’s University, took his own life, his parents set up a memorial called jack.org to destigmatize mental illness. This is the fascinating story of its growth across Canada.
It is a story told to the Rotary Club of Kingston by Naguib Gouda, via Zoom from Toronto. Naguib, himself lives with a “complex” form of PTSD plus depression and severe anxiety. It is a mental health issue he hid from health practitioners until he was 30 so he could get some help, and from the public just before the pandemic began in March 2020.
Gouda began his career in financial services as a marketing expert with the Bank of Montreal. Today, he brings those same skills to jack.org as the lead volunteer looking for Major Individual Givers specializing in Estate Planning and Giving.
Jack took his life in 2010, Gouda explained, and since then jack.org, founded by his parents Eric Windeler and Sandra Henington, its mission has been “to empower young people to have the education and resources they need to help themselves and their peers and to make lasting change in Mental Health in their communities”.
From 2010 to 2012 The Jack Project worked with Queen’s and Kids Help Phone, however in 2013 they became an independent charity jack.org. Since then, they have grown to a staff of 74, have trained over 3000 leaders in over 200 communities throughout Canada.
Their program contains four parts:
  • Jack Talks,
  • Jack Chapters,
  • Jack Summits, and
  • BeThere, an award-winning online resource.
So far this school year (2021-22) 176 Jack Talks have been given reaching 17,000 students, 174 Jack Chapters have received leadership training, 3 Regional and 10 local Summits have been held and over 500,000 visitors have accessed BeThere.org to take this online certification program.
The BeThere.org training program targets the high school to the university transition period. Jack.org has set the following targets:
  • By July 2023
  • 300,000 reached through an awareness campaign,
  • 100,000 certified in Canada
  • By July 2025
  • 1,000,000 certified across North America

Scenes From Jack Talks, Chapters & Summits

Gouda’s presentation below includes video’s with more information on the BeThere.org program and jack.org for those who wish to gain more detail.