What is YouthTALK?
A youth-led program in Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin, that works together to challenge stigma by promoting wellness and educating peers about mental health. We do this by running community initiatives, delivering presentations, and facilitating youth wellness conferences. Youth gain positive connections, leadership skills, volunteer experience, and resilience through positive coping tools and community resources
In 2004, the Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington Dufferin helped fund a play written by a drama teacher at John F. Ross called ‘A Permanent Solution’. This play touched on the important, and often, undiscussed issue of youth suicide. The student and teacher response to this play was very positive, and there was a strong call for a follow up initiative that focused on educating youth on suicide awareness and prevention. This is how YouthTALK was born. Now funded by United Way, YouthTALK has in-school teams in schools all over the Wellington Dufferin area, as well as an open Regional Team from youth in these regions.
YouthTALK originally started as a youth-led program about suicide prevention and meant health promotion, but in the Fall of 2018, it was determined that YouthTALK would change its mission to include more students. Instead of being a program about suicide prevention and mental health promotion only for high school aged youth, it became a youth-led program about mental health promotion and youth engagement. This includes raising awareness and educating peers about mental health and wellness, stigma reduction, and resilience building for youth in grades 7-12+ in schools.
What We Do
In School Teams
Youth are encouraged to plan and implement creative projects and activities to raise awareness of these issues at their school. These engagement initiatives can range from small activities over lunch to larger assembly type presentations or full day events. Some examples are: exam stress kits, trivia and contests, positive message murals, guest speakers and presentations, hosting resource booths, and more. These initiatives are developed primarily by students with the support of the Youth Engagement Facilitator, in partnership with the Upper Grand and Wellington Catholic District School Boards, and a designated staff person at each school.
The main project and responsibility of the Regional Team has been to plan, organize and facilitate the Regional Youth Wellness Conference that takes place in the spring of every year and is offered to youth throughout Wellington-Dufferin. The youth not only decide what workshops and speakers they would like to present to the visiting students, but they create promotional materials, coordinate the day’s events, and plan and run the workshops as well! As well, the youth deliver education presentations and engage in community awareness activities.
Through YouthTalk, not only have I made incredible friends, but I've also learned a lot about myself! Since joining this amazing team, I realized that I want to go on to major in Psychology in University, and continue to be an active advocate for mental wellness in my school and greater community.
A youth-led program that works together to
challenge stigma by promoting wellness and
educating peers about mental health.
We do this by running community initiatives,
delivering presentations, and facilitating
youth wellness conferences.
Youth gain positive connections, leadership
skills, volunteer experience, and resilience
through positive coping tools and community
Empowering youth to use their
voices to create meaningful change!
Awareness. Educating the community.
Acceptance. No stigma, no judgement.
Inspire. We empower each other.
Fun. We are passionate and enjoy what we do.