Milk and cookies, salt and pepper, peanut butter and jam, and bacon and eggs are all things that are better together.
They are also something that a Saskatchewan apparel company is hoping can bring people together and help improve mental health and wellness.
That apparel company, Better Together, started in 2018 after the Battlefords saw eight suicides in seven weeks. That tragedy brought co-founders Allysa Woodrow, who lost four of her friends, and pastor Deb McNabb together, leading the formation of the project.
“We found food items that go together. We put those four logos of four different types of foods that connect onto shirts,” McNabb said.
After years of spreading awareness through t-shirts featuring connections, including over 25,000 shirts worn across the country, McNabb was in Regina, expanding the project to Queen City.
Co-Founder Deb McNabb said that the first part of the expansion was a stop at the Ruth Pawson School last week, with the City of Regina proclaiming July as ‘Better Together Month.’
“Every Tuesday, local citizens are challenged to wear our better together t-shirts that have four different logos on them on Tuesdays, looking for their matches in the community so when you find your match, you wave, you say hello,” she said. “You meet new friends and talk about how amazing your community is. We are truly better together, and we are healthier when we are connected.”
McNabb said that after they lost those to suicide in the Battlefords, they realized how important it is to focus on mental health and wellness.
“It’s so much bigger than just talking about suicide and the loss that is around that,” she said. “We wanted to keep all citizens healthy and strong; we started to shout everywhere we could that connected communities are healthy communities.”
She said the initiative is just wearing a t-shirt every Tuesday; it’s much more.
“To me, it’s not just about the shirt. You can go and buy a shirt in a store. It’s about a message. People are wearing and sharing our shirts and making sure our message is proclaimed.”
McNabb said that they had seen huge changes through the program.
“A decrease in isolation, a decrease in loneliness, and an increase in mutual understanding and an increase in bridging the gaps within the generation and over all a change in mental health.”
Mayor Sandra Masters said that Better Together is an incredible story and something the City wanted to highlight.
“It’s an unbelievable story about taking issues around mental health and suicidal ideation and creating in the form of a t-shirt, a method to communicate to others that you are not in it alone.”
Masters encourages everyone to embrace the month.
“You can make a connection via a t-shirt, and it’s that visual of walking out and knowing that someone else is instantly thinking the same thing you’re thinking. Making that human connection that, frankly, we have been missing so much. In support of mental health and suicide prevention and just in support of human connection, I think it’s an incredible story.”
McNabb added that not only does it help raise awareness and allow people to make connections, and all the money raised goes right back into the t-shirts.