Local Impact

Youth Engagement

A commitment to youth engagement means accepting a continual evolution that ensures service design and delivery keeps pace with the real-world needs and desires of Ontario youth. After a dozen years at the forefront of championing youth engagement in child and youth mental health, the Centre couldn’t be happier about the monumental culture shift that puts young people on the leading edge of change.

2016-17: the Centre distributed nearly $150,000 to 39 youth-led mental health awareness initiatives in communities across the province though its Dare to Dream program. $35,655 or nine of these were awarded to northern and/or indigenous communities, as part of a targeted call last fall.
2016-17: the Centre provided tailored youth engagement support within 20 Ontario communities: Eight individual agencies and 12 service areas.
The degree to which lead agencies agreed that Centre supports increased their capacity to engage youth and helped them reach their youth engagement goals.
Centre services have supported our ability to engage young people and service providers across our region to improve collaboration and service delivery. They’ve helped us establish a shared understanding of what youth engagement is, with all of our core mental health service providers, which has resulted in an increased readiness and awareness of youth engagement in our community.
- Lead agency
The Centre provided a youth engagement training workshop for 50 participants in our community, half of whom were youth actively involved in a core service treatment agency. It enhanced our ability to engage youth in residential and other intensive services; which was the number one objective in our plan to develop a community-wide strategy.
- Lead agency
A Labour of Love: Putting the Youth Engagement Pieces Together in Leeds and Grenville

With input from 83 young people in this rural community, Christine Brook set out to change the way her agency worked with – and for – youth. She enlisted the Centre’s help to launch the project with a kickoff meeting where our knowledge brokers and youth advisors working alongside their team. The goal of this meeting was to deliver an informative and emotional session that would encourage staff to embrace deeper engagement and permanently shift the culture of the organization.

“The kickoff made them more invested in the initiative,” says Brook. “We can talk about the theory, but I really felt right from the beginning if we were going to have a culture shift we had to appeal to the heart as well as the head.”

Brook took her time. She analyzed the data, talked to her community partners and consulted as much evidence as she could find. She believed in the power of engagement, but wanted to do it right.

Her proposal received unanimous approval and she set her plan in motion. She hired a youth coordinator, set up a youth engagement committee in her agency and set the wheels in motion to create a youth group.

When struggling to get traction in the early days, the youth came together to submit a proposal to the Centre’s Dare to Dream program. Now they are criss-crossing their region teaching hospitals, school boards and others how to do engagement right with Dare to Dream award funding. While some agencies struggle to maintain consistent numbers of youth engaged in their activities, Brook doesn’t have that problem. In Leeds and Grenville, the young people recruit themselves.

“It really solidified a common purpose for them,” said Brook.

[...] knowledge brokers and youth advisors working alongside their team. The goal of this meeting was to deliver an informative and emotional session that would encourage staff to embrace deeper engagement and permanently shift the culture of the organization.
Her proposal received unanimous approval and she set her plan in motion. She hired a youth coordinator, set up a youth engagement committee in her agency and set the wheels in motion to create a youth group. When struggling to get traction in the early days, the youth came together to submit a proposal to the Centre’s Dare to Dream program.