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Daniel Pye, a student at the University of Toronto, on Jan. 21, 2021.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The organizers: Daniel Pye and fellow students at the University of Toronto

The pitch: Creating Rise to Thrive

The goal: To support mental-health initiatives

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Like many university students, Daniel Pye has struggled with physical distancing, lockdowns and online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was something that struck a few friends in difficult ways, myself included a little bit,” said Mr. Pye, a third-year economics student at the University of Toronto.

He soon began searching for ways to form new habits and set aside time to do things for himself like reading a book. It wasn’t easy but after a few weeks, Mr. Pye slowly broke out of old habits and created a new routine.

He decided to help other students find similar motivation and came up with Rise to Thrive, an online platform that helps participants change their daily habits while also raising money for mental-health charities. The personal changes can be as simple as reading more, waking up earlier or going for a jog. Mr. Pye drew inspiration from Atomic Habits by James Clear, a self-help book that offers tips on how to alter habits.

As part of the program, Rise to Thrive also encourages students to work together to raise money for charities that focus on mental-health issues. The first fundraising challenge comes in March and Mr. Pye is hoping the platform can raise $100,000. “It’s a bit of a challenge that makes you focus on yourself for the greater good,” he said.

The venture received a $3,000 grant from the university from a program designed to help students cope with the pandemic. Mr. Pye has also been joined by a group of fellow U of T students including Leonardo Barboza and Rebeca Figueroa. They plan to launch the platform on Feb. 15.

“There’s a unique power to everyone getting together with enough passion to make things work. And so far that’s been the fuel to our flame,” Mr. Pye said.

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