For several years, CMHA Calgary’s YouthSMART (Youth Supporting Mental Health and Resiliency Together) has provided top-quality mental health learning opportunities in local junior and senior high schools. YouthSMART knows that students are incredibly influential amongst their peers, within their schools, families, and communities. As such, YouthSMART’s new “Youth Champion Initiative” now approaches youth as valuable peer contributors, actively involved in the programing and opportunities that directly impact their wellness.
As a partnership between YouthSMART and the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre (SKCAC), this exciting new initiative empowers over 300 students from 36 different junior and senior high schools in the Calgary area to take responsibility in promoting a climate of well-being, healthy relationships, and resiliency within their schools.
The initiative kicks off with the 3rd Annual “YouthSMART – Youth Mental Health Summit” on Thursday, October 19th at the Genesis Centre. The full day summit will feature impactful, youth-friendly speakers, such as Andrew Phung from CBCca’s Kim’s Convenience, Graham Mosimann from X92.9, and Sheldon Kennedy. As a catalyst event, the summit is designed to generate an awareness of mental health topics, and increase young people’s skills and confidence to increase mental health supports within their school-community.
Based on their learnings from the summit, each of the participating schools’ Youth Champion teams will develop and implement a unique, year-long, student-led action plan to take back to their schools, to spark meaningful mental health promotions amongst their peers. Youth Champions are provided with a toolkit, as well as personalized support from YouthSMART and SKCAC staff. Youth Champion teams will also attend regular forum events throughout the school year, to deepen their understandings and share their ongoing work within the initiative.