Dare to Dream program
Thank you for your interest in the Dare to Dream program. The Fall 2016 deadline has come to a close. We thank everyone who applied. We’ll be back with more information for the Spring 2017 applications soon. For those interested in applying, the deadline is March 31, 2017.
What do we mean when we say mental health?
“Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
When we talk about mental health, we don’t necessarily mean mental illness. Mental illnesses, like depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, are important to talk about, but our focus is on promoting mental health through a youth and community initiative. We like to see projects that take interesting and innovative approaches to promoting mental health and wellness. These include projects that talk about culture, identity, community building and growth! If you think it relates to mental health, apply and just be sure to tell us *how* in your application!
What’s the process?
Project Tsi niyonkwariho:tens (Our ways/responsibilities) was an idea from youth Six Nations students in at the Brantford Collegiate Institute, who wanted to celebrate their heritage, traditions and identity as a means of building their personal resilience. Through traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Condolence teachings about grief, loss and mourning, they helped process their own experiences of loss. By bringing in elders and speakers from their community, they shared authentic teachings on traditional mental wellness and resiliency. They created medicine pouches, wampum belts and shell jewelry to build community and resilience through the celebration of their heritage, identities and traditions.
In their own words, “Our hope is that we will feel more comfortable talking about our compound grief issues that stem from the nearby residential school that many of our families attended. We hope to have discussions about suicide which is prevalent in our communities and has touched all of us on a personal level. We need to name it to change it. Returning to the teachings from Sonkwiatison (Creator) about our original instructions will help us to be courageous enough to have these conversations. We will provide a safe and nurturing environment to share and also have the caring and supportive adults in place to be our soft place to land when we discuss these difficult subjects”
White Owl Native Ancestry Association Elder and Youth Teaching Circle
The Elder and Youth Teaching Circle is a weekly program for young people in Kitchener, Ontario. Their activities vary from special outings, to traditional teachings such as the seven ways of living as well as how to smudge and why smudging is important. The project used culture to teach positive mental health by allowing youth to experience traditional healings as well as learn cultural aspects of their heritage. They learned the different medicines used to provide positive mental health and attended a support group to help them heal from any possible trauma they experienced. The youth were given a therapeutic experience through each session by making crafts, and participating in group activities such as sweat lodges and canoe trips. The program provided the youth with the ability to use the traditions passed on through the elders to increase their mental health.
The YouTH Matter group, from Sudbury, Ontario, wanted to find a fun-filled way to engage more young people in their community in mental health education and stigma reduction. Through a wide range of activities, with a different theme each month, including yoga sessions, a coffee house and open mic, a movie night and a pool party, the group combined fun and engaging activities with mental health education. They didn’t just want their peers to learn about mental health, they also wanted more opportunities for young people to come together and relax, and to get to know new people in their communities. They wanted to help make sure young people knew where to go if they were struggling, so they brought out resources and talked about local services. The best part? They knew that young people have a lot going on, and that different kinds of activities interest different people, so their monthly themes were set up to engage different kinds of young people, at different times and with different interests, each month.
Young Women’s Mental Health Forum
The Purple Sisters, a Youth Advisory Committee of the Youth Services Bureau, hosted a 1-day young women’s mental health forum, that focused on the lived experience of marginalized women, and the impact that sexism, transphobia, racism and similar forms of discrimination have on the mental health of young women. They brought together young women from across Ottawa for workshops on self-care, how to be an ally, media portrayal of women and the impact on mental health, and similar workshops, as well as two keynote speakers who talked about the experiences of trans women and the importance of a supportive family. Their project, hosted at the Youth Services Bureau, brought together community partners to share resources, and helped young women connect with their peers in safer spaces that validated their identities and sought to support them as best they could.
IMPACT! Youth Summit
The IMPACT! Youth Summit brought together young people from across the Hanover region for an intense one-day conference on mental health, youth engagement and leadership. They helped provide young people involved in school clubs with the skills they would need to better support their initiatives, and provided students with education and training on how to fight bullying in their schools and communities. They brought in keynote speakers to share their experiences about bullying, leadership and mental health, while providing students with opportunities to connect with peers and build their own skill sets.
Project iMatter is about engaging students in educating other students. Working with their student leadership program, youth from Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School provided peer-led mental health education to every single Grade 9 student in their school in an interactive, engaging format. They provided ongoing opportunities to educate students in self-care, and how to look out for their own mental health, and brought in keynote speakers to bridge the gap between mental health education, and the lived experience of the speakers. Beyond their own activities, they’ve worked with other school clubs to talk about how to bring mental health into different aspects of the school community, with a mental health bulletin board, a poster contest, and other strategies.