Youth Engagement Subcommittee – Youth Mental Health Project
The St. James Town Youth Council (SJYC) is a youth-led initiative formed in 2008 with the support of The Yonge Street Mission. Today, the council has 20+ members between the ages of 13 and 22. The Yonge Street Mission build the capacity among the members to take the ownership of the council and move forward as a youth-led initiative with limited external support. The council has developed several annual events/ projects for their community that they take sole responsibility to plan, organize and implement; the low income family kids pack project, March Break Career Camp, Community Clean-up, Jane’s Walk, the Coffee House Fundraiser, the Urban Flair talent show, Community BBQ etc. The Yonge Street Mission supports the Council by offering administrative support through an adult advisor and also by granting them an annual budget which they oversee and use as they see fit to accomplish their mandate.
St. James Town Youth Health and Well-being project will be implemented through The St. James Town Youth Council, a group of 20+ high school students who meet regularly to connect, inspire and empower other youth in their community. Through this project youth from the St. James Town Youth Council will build their capacity to raise awareness about mental health and substance use as well as the harmful health effects of tobacco smoke (through shisha smoking). Youth from the Youth Council will receive trainings with support from Sherbourne Health Centre’s Newcomer Health Team on mental health. The training will include the topics like substance use and addictions, where to get support, how youth can speak this issue to others etc. A core project team will be created from the Youth Council consist of 6 Youth Ambassadors. This project has two focus areas in the activity part to attract youth population. (I) The youth ambassadors will organize “speaking engagements” at (a) Existing youth-focused groups and events in the community (b) the ambassadors will organize their own youth meetings through direct outreach at schools and the community. (II) Other Youth Council members will organize a poster-making campaign that addresses both mental health and harmful health affects of tobacco smoke.
March Break Camp Sub-Committee – Camp Reality Report – 2016
Our first day was University Day, where we traveled to two universities outside Toronto, McMaster and University of Guelph. We were given an in-depth tour of the campuses. They went from talking about the different areas for the various programs to the meal plans, so there was a lot of talking and a lot of walking because the campuses were so big. This let our youth brainstorm on what courses or universities they may want to go to in the near future.
The second day was Media Day, where we got an inside look in the CTV building, as well as learning about how the broadcasting industry works and how it’s technically managed. The participants were amazed by the professionalism and work that goes into the news reporting industry. We even got to listen to the staff talk about the celebrities they met, which impressed us. Many of the camp participants realized that it is a great career and a lot of fame. Our leaders arranged a tour and workshop at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health. This visit let our participants learn more about the area of mental health and addiction, job pportunities in this sector, research projects and the multidisciplinary team approach. It was also a very long, great day!
Our third day was the Business Day, where we go to BMW and learn about the automobile industry, opportunities, and their corporate work environment. We learned about marketing, business, and sales, and we got to explore for a bit and see the advanced cars, which got our participants excited. What was even more exciting was the test drives the participants went on one by one. After a good lunch break, we headed off to MaRs, which is a non-profit corporation that creates a platform for social innovation, entrepreneurship and research. We were given a presentation about social innovation and design thinking. This got our members to learn a bit about nurturing business ideas and what qualities to have to be a business woman/man.
Our very last day was pretty sad because March break camp was coming to an end. Our members got up bright and early, since they were excited to go to Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute and Keenan Research Center at St. Michael’s Hospital. We were provided a great breakfast and we were given a wonderful presentation about how the art of curiosity ended up with some great research finding, and how those findings significantly changed cancer treatment. After, we were given a tour around the different areas in the center. We got to see where they test out cells and we were given an in-depth tour on where they keep their research subjects. We were given an inside look of research labs of fish and we also got to see newborn ones, which we were surprised to see how fish stem cells have the potential for self-renewal and differentiation. The best part about the tour was doing a medical examination on a mannequin that responded to us like a human would. The members got hands-on experience of medical examination of an accident-patient and were keen on learning about the procedure. They acted like real medical professionals, it was a challenge for us and when we were done, it was an accomplishment for us.
The Camp Reality participants were high school students from Toronto’s St. James Town neighbourhood. Our goal was to make our youth open-minded and alert on what are some of the great careers existing around us. We made sure that they had fun at the same time as there was some takeaways. This experience would be a significant factor when they really choose their career, and St. James Town Youth Council believes we did accomplish our goal.
We would like to thank The Leacock Foundation and The Yonge Street Mission for making this camp happen for us, it is the story of youth-led community transformation. We appreciate all the council members for their hard work throughout this project.
Chair – St. James Town Youth Council
Contact No: 647 709 5763
Camp Reality Coordinator
Contact No: 437 999 3226
Secretary – St. James Town Youth Council
Contact No: 647 721 1334
Adult Advisor – St. James Town Youth Council
The Yonge Street Mission
Youth Development Sub-Committee