Since its arrival to Swift Current in September, a non-profit centred on mental health in youth and seniors has taken off in the area. 

Better Together was founded in the Battlefords in 2019 by Deb McNabb but has since spread all over the province, designing t-shirts to connect communities

Abbie Houston, an old neighbour and family friend of McNabb's, now runs the operation in the southwest, after debuting the organization in the city earlier this year. 

"I think we did about 6 stops throughout the city," Houston said. "We met with the mayor, we were at the center, we were at the swift current Broncos. And you plant that seed and then the ball is rolling. So, by the time Deb left that evening, the City of Swift Current had reached out [to order t-shirts] for their entire council. This is exactly what happens. People see it, they hear about it, they want to be involved, they want to learn more."

better together city hall_0.jpeg Mayor Al Bridal with Deb McNabb and Abbie Houston

Not long after their first weekend in the city, Better Together received an anonymous donation of $640 with a hand-written statement to use it however they saw fit. 

After weeks of contemplating with McNabb, Houston decided to use the donation to dress the staff at Dorie's House, a local youth emergency shelter.

better together dories house.jpg Swift Current Online reached out to Dorie's House, to which they declined comment

Loralee Orthner, a Grade 9 teacher at the Swift Current Comprehensive High School reached out to Houston to hear the story of Better Together and decided to dress their Grade 9 staff in the t-shirts. 

"At the beginning of the year, we were talking about getting the kids with a sense of belonging and wanting to be a part of the school and be connected with the school," Orthner said. "I had come across the Better Together initiative actually, and I looked at that and I thought 'What better way to show the kids how they can be connected than to see that their group of Grade 9 teachers are also connected as a group with them.'  That's one of the big philosophies of middle years -- is to try to find ways to connect with them, so that's when I reached out to Abbie."

Houston added that they're currently working with multiple organizations and companies in the area that are wanting to sponsor a classroom or a daycare centre, and encouraged any business that wishes to do so to reach out. 

BetterTogether_Grade9Staff_3.JPG Abbie Houston with Grade 9 staff at the Swift Current Comprehensive High School

Better Together t-shirts are handmade by youth in Saskatoon under the mentorship of Bruce at Tucker's T-shirts and Screenprinting. 

"He probably saved more kids than he even realizes," Houston said. "This is the whole reason why they started; to connect people, connect different generations, connect communities. Look out for each other, pay attention to each other, care for each other.

"I think everybody needs Better Together. Just the concept of it is so simple, but it's so significant what the message is. Connected communities are better communities."