Meet our Facilitator
Meet Jessica Schumacher!
Jessica was born and raised in Kitchener, and attended Laurier University for Child Education Development, as well as Conestoga College for Recreation and Leisure Services. For the past five years, Jessica has worked for the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo-Wellington with peer-led groups about mental health promotion and well-being. She is a motivated, enthusiastic individual who is passionate about youth engagement and education that will help youth grow and develop their own personal skills and learning. Aside from her professional background, sports, health, and fitness are and have always been a huge part of her life. From playing on in-school teams starting in grade school to competitive leagues, Jessica loves spending time being active every day. She is an avid reader, food lover, and Harry Potter fan.
As a Youth Engagement Facilitator at CMHAWW, she is engaged in many different initiatives and hands-on work with youth in the Wellington-Dufferin area. Her role specifically with the YouthTALK program is to provide training and support to create these school and community based youth-led project teams that will inform peers about mental health promotion, encourage resilience and provide information about resources. With the Regional team, she supports the facilitation of the group meetings and assist the youth with conference planning, organizing, and behind the scenes work. Jessica also empowers youth to develop their facilitation skills for presentations, and providing community volunteer opportunities.
We asked Jessica why she was passionate about the work she does with YouthTALK and she said:
"I am passionate about the work YouthTALK does because it is so wonderful to see youth come together for an important cause. It is so great to be able to help youth feel empowered to use their voices for meaningful change. Being a youth-led program means adults and youth work together and not only have youth involved in the decision making, but actively carrying out the duties for the team. Peers can relate directly to the youth who are educating them, and information may resonate better with them. There is something for everyone in YouthTALK. We help and support those who are strong leaders and advocators of mental health, others who may be struggling themselves to find help and resources, and others who want a safe space to meet new people and not feel alone.
Through the in-school and Regional teams, I love being a part of being able to support and watch the youth grow and develop leadership and teamwork skills, seek confidence to talk about mental health to their peers, and build their own resiliency to deal with their own stressors and challenges. The YouthTALK members’ passion never falters, and they are open and willing to contribute efforts wherever and whenever was needed. They are so creative and are always coming up with fantastic new ways for youth engagement and initiatives. The fact that they do all of this voluntary to educate their peers and raise awareness for mental health and wellness is something I am extremely proud of."
We know that we gain great skills, relationships and opportunities from YouthTALK, we wanted to know if Jessica gained anything from her work with the team. Jessica reports:
"Through YouthTALK, I have gained many benefits from an adult partnership perspective. I know the work that I do is really making a difference in the community and especially with youth. It is so rewarding to have a job that allows me to do what I love most, being out in the community engaging with young people, and watching them become empowered and build their own resilience and leadership skills. No two days are the same, and there is always something new and exciting to take part in. CMHA has allowed me to obtain personal growth and further my education through numerous workshops and training opportunities.
I have also learned more patience, and delegating as a leader. Teamwork is so important, and I know that I can trust the youth to follow through and engage in the work and activities of the program. Also, being flexible and learning to adapt is a huge part of the job, and the youth have really helped me develop my own personal skills.
I have taken what I have learned and not only teach others, but I have begun to incorporate it into my everyday life, always trying to improve my own mental health, learn balance and stress management, and build up my toolbox with resiliency, coping, motivational skills, and so much more."