CMHA Calgary’s Youth Mental Health Initiative kicks off with the 4th Annual YouthSMART Summit on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, at the Genesis Centre. This catalyst event connects more than 300 ambassador students and teachers from close to 30 schools in the Calgary area to join in a powerful expression of sharing, learning, and subject matter co-development.
YouthSMART (Youth Supporting Mental Health and Resiliency Together) is a customizable year-long initiative, which features a well-developed spectrum of mental health education for participating schools. For several years, the effort 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 a catalyst event, designated SMART Leader students will work collaboratively and utilize their learning opportunities from listening to local celebrities and inspirational speakers’ stories, sharing their ongoing mental health awareness activities, and facilitating the learning from one another. The ultimate goal of the event is to generate an awareness of mental health topics, while actively empowering youth to take responsibility in leading a climate of well-being and resiliency within their school communities.
Impactful, youth-friendly speakers such as Graham Mosimann, evening announcer at Calgary’s Alternative X92.9, Gilmore Junio, self-effacing young speed-skater in 2014 Olympic Games, Jean-Francois Dupras, mountaineer and mental health advocate, and Orenda Society, a local NGO that promotes mental wellness among youths, will be present at the event and share their own stories.
Based on the learnings from the summit, participating schools become “SMART Schools” and will commit to the development and implementation of their action plans. SMART Leader students and their designated teachers will implement ongoing, school-wide mental health awareness campaigns throughout the year.
Actively supporting the SMART Leaders, connecting their work to related school priorities and building staff capacity will help build a strong foundation for creating a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe school and nurtures mental health and a positive sense of self. Current research shows that using comprehensive, school-wide strategies is the best approach to building learning environments, where all students feel safe and supported.
Participating students and teachers will receive the YouthSMART Toolkit, the access to YouthSMART Educators and CMHA Youth/Family Peer Supporters, as well as a Menu of Optional Mental Health Learning Opportunities.
The initiative concludes in Spring 2019 with an optional celebration event. To finish the year, students reflect on the impact they have made in their schools, and new awareness concepts and avenues of learning are co-generated for future youth support from CMHA and YouthSMART.
To know more about the YouthSMART Initiative, visit: http://www.youthsmart.ca/