mindyourmind Monday: Canada Service Corp

After 5 years, our time with the Canada Service Corps (CSC) is coming to an end. For this #mymMonday, we asked the team to share a fond memory or something they learned through this experience. Although it is bittersweet to close this chapter of our work, we will never forget the people we have crossed paths with. Thank you to all the youth and partners who made this project so special. 

Heather: Five years ago, when we were told that we would be part of the CSC project, it was such an exciting period. At mindyourmind, we have worked previously with partners from outside of Ontario, but this was different. To be given the financial support and freedom to conduct our Design Labs, with youth across the country was phenomenal. Travelling and working with youth on the East coast, the West coast, the Prairies, and in TWO Northern communities was truly remarkable. We worked with young people from all different backgrounds, and life experiences, but the common thread of being passionate about their mental health and wanting to make a difference in their communities was profoundly evident. I am so proud of the work we did, the products we co-created and the young people that showed up to make positive change. They are truly the future. 

Josh: The CSC project was an amazing opportunity for me to see how youth engage with mentors, and how they work together to create resources for their communities. The idea that youth can help create mental health projects to inform and engage with their own peers is a powerful one. I have no doubt that the projects they helped create, and the model that they’ve been a part of, will continue to be a standard by which future projects are measured.

Elora: Being a part of the CSC project was an incredibly rewarding and meaningful experience. Through this project, I had the opportunity to meet many inspiring young people, who I learned so much from. I am grateful for their time, expertise, and insight and I will forever cherish the moments we shared. From listening to and interacting with these youth, I feel hopeful for the future ahead. As well, I could not have imagined travelling to Montreal, Quebec, or Yellowknife, Northwest Territories for work – it was such a privilege to explore different parts of our country and connect with individuals with diverse identities and experiences. This project helped me grow personally and professionally, and I was able to build confidence in my facilitation skills and foster valuable lifelong networks. I am so proud of what we accomplished these past 5 years and I hope our resources from this project help young people for many years to come. 

Kyle: As a web program, mindyourmind has always championed mental health with youth nationwide but the CSC provided a unique opportunity to put our learnings over the years into direct action. Our crew travelled Canada from coast to coast to coast, meeting with youth in their home towns and developing creative approaches to highlight and address their unique challenges as well as the challenges they share with every young person across this country. For my part (as a returning mindyourmind old-timer) it was cool to see this resilient “little” program that has constantly been underfunded, underestimated, and occasionally even kicked around, manage to thrive on the national stage, even through the pandemic lockdowns. I’m glad I got to be here for that.

Scarlett: I was, and continue to be, so proud of and happy for mindyourmind to have been involved in the CSC project. I didn’t have a direct role in the CSC work until the pandemic hit (and then transitioned to a different role before we returned to doing in-person Design Labs), and while this meant I didn’t get to travel to any new communities, I was still so thankful for the opportunity to virtually connect with and help mentor youth from across the country. Our first virtual Design Lab of the pandemic was unique in that it involved weekly meetings for several months, and being able to really build mentor-mentee relationships with the youth across that time was an experience I am very grateful for. 

Michelle: The Canada Service Corps project was a fantastic opportunity for mindyourmind to create tools with young people in different communities across Canada. The youth we met were creative, diverse, unique and passionate about advocating for mental health. In the Design Lab we have open discussions around the issues young people are facing and they brainstorm different tool ideas. And then the fun part begins when we go back to the office and actually make the tool! The youth in Halifax wanted a self care journal book – a book they could write in! We went there prepared to make an online tool and maybe a few posters or cards but they wanted a book. Since then we’ve made seven books. Working with youth across the country has been an experience of a lifetime. I’m sad to see it come to an end but I’ll remember all the new things I’ve learned from young people.

Simran: Being part of the CSC project was something I don’t think I’d have ever imagined. I learned so much from all the youth that I had the opportunity to work with. Their passion for mental health motivated me in my advocacy and my role as a facilitator. My most memorable memory would have to be with everything the youth did after our design labs. As part of our design labs we also supported youth in applying for #RisingYouth grants. We had multiple youth who applied and organized their own events and resources using the teachings they learned from our time together. Seeing them take on these leadership roles really validated everything we do as a mental health program. 

Sanchi: Learning about the CSC project and seeing the effort and results of all the designs we conducted was an amazing experience. I think seeing co-creation come to life is so important to understand how relevant it is. The resources that the youth created have been so useful to me and to so many other young people.

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