Last Wednesday, Peer 2 Peer hosted its first ever Paint Night Destressor in the Student Centre’s Presentation Room. The event provided an opportunity for students to unwind from final assignments and exams, socialize, and essentially paint your stress away.

Initially, I was a bit skeptical at the idea of “painting my stress away.” I had heard that painting can be a cathartic activity, but I was doubtful that it could alleviate my stress as a molecular biology student at UTM. But as it turns out, I was wrong.

The environment was inviting. Music and refreshments greeted students upon entry. Participants were provided with the basic tools they needed: a canvas, several brushes, a cup of water, a paper plate, and acrylic paints. Most people who attended seemed to have a passion for painting, which was evident in their work.

Many painters started with a base of calm shades. Some painted a dark, starry night with purple and blue tones, using a sponge to blur the edges of the paint. Others painted a sunset with interspersing orange, yellow, and red tones. Some ditched the background completely and started with faces. In some paintings, I observed trees of spruce, birch and maple, mountains, and houses being painted with darker tones. If anyone was hesitant at first, like myself, that feeling quickly dissipated. Participants seemed to be very confident with their work. Some had a picture they brought with them as inspiration, while others, like myself, freestyled their work.

For some students, the event allowed them to rediscover their talents and interest in the craft. Sameeha Alim, a fourth-year biology major, commented, “I really got a chance to paint after a long time because I was busy with school work.” Vida Sosa, a fourth-year psychology major, said, “I enjoyed the event. It was very fun and I am thankful for the people that came.”

In addition to Peer 2 Peer, the event was co-hosted by P.A.U.S.E., MEDLIFE UTM, and UTM Art Club. Peer 2 Peer is a student support group at UTM. They strive to offer assistance for student concerns, create positive spaces on campus, and raise awareness towards mental health. Allison Gomes, president of both MEDLIFE and Peer 2 Peer, helped organize the event and commented, “We wanted to have a unique event on campus for people to come and hang out, and this is it.”

The event relates to each of the hosting clubs’ mantras. Paint Night Destressor focused on mental health in the way it allowed students to relax and take their minds off stress. Mental health is a common seam that runs through all the organizations.

Overall, the evening had a great turnout. The proceeds from ticket sales went towards paint supplies and food for the participants, with any leftover funds donated to MEDLIFE’s project of building a school in Tanzania.