What is the Youth Champion Initiative?
The Youth Champion Initiative empowers high-school students to develop their leadership capacity by taking responsibility in their school communities to promote a climate of well-being, healthy relationships and resiliency.
What do Youth Champions do?
Motivated, energetic student champions are supported by the SKCAC, Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary Region, their school administration and a Lead Teacher to collaboratively contribute to the larger community. By advocating for safe, supportive school-communities, Youth Champions embrace healthy relationships, support positive mental health and promote awareness of trauma and its impact. Teams of student leaders collectively engage their heart, head and hands to:
- Identify meaningful issues/topics to address in their school community
- Develop a plan to tackle these concerns and promote resiliency
- Apply leadership and communication skills to engage others in their school-community
- Reflect, Evaluate and Celebrate
How does the Initiative work?
The Youth Champion Initiative aligns with the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s evidence-informed approach for working with youth. This framework includes 4 components:
- Contact-based education: Youth have the opportunity to interact with credible people who have lived experience and/or expertise with childhood trauma or mental health issues.
- Youth Forums: Events for all youth champions to expand their learning, create action plans, and strategize together to take meaningful messages back to their school-community.
- School-based Activities: Student teams in each school lead the development and implementation of action plans in their school-community.
- A Whole-School Approach: A school-wide approach to creating safe, supportive environments is encouraged and supported.
Who is involved?
We are currently working with 18 high schools from the following districts:
- Calgary Board of Education (CBE)
- Calgary Catholic School District (CSSD)
- Rocky View Schools
- Foothills School Division
- Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools
- Golden Hills School Division
- Canadian Rockies Public Schools
Starting in 2017-18 School year, the SKCAC and CMHA- Calgary Region will be collaboratively leading the Youth Champion Initiative in Calgary and area schools. We will also be piloting a service learning opportunity for pre-service teachers with the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary.
What are the Benefits of Youth Engagement?
Recent studies and reports highlight the many benefits for youth, adults and organizations when youth are actively engaged in meaningfully contributed to their community.
The Youth Engagement Literature Review prepared by the Joint Consortium of School Health sites the following impacts and outcomes below.
Leading Conversation, Building Resiliency, Inspiring Change