CAPDATE: Gearing up for the Mental Health Awareness Forum for Newcomer Youth

February 13, 2019

For the past couple of weeks, Youth Changemakers from the Engaged Immigrant Youth Program (EIYP) of the Vancouver School District (VSB) spend their Monday afternoons planning and preparing for their Mental Health Awareness Forum which will be held on January 28th.

On their first meeting as the official VSB-EIYP CAP Team, the group shared what motivated them to join in the project and why it is important to talk about mental health. Some of the students stated:

"Because [mental health issues] are common among newcomers or even just youth in general but not everyone are open to talk about it."

"There are also a lot of stigma around mental health."

"Even if people are aware that it is present, not everyone knows who to ask for help or where to ask for help."

"To provide a safe place to discuss and express ideas"

"To have a mentally healthier and well-informed youth [about mental health]"

In addition to sharing what motivated them to join, the Youth Changemakers also created their Group Guidelines and their "Gives and Gets." Some of the ideas that were shared among the group is the importance of respect, kindness, and cooperation.

As part of their Mental Health Awareness Forum, Youth Changemakers also decided that they want to include a Portrait Gallery that relates to their personal experiences (or of someone they know) regarding mental health. To help them prepare for their Portrait Gallery, we invited a community partner to facilitate a photography workshop. Our guest speaker shared some tips on story telling through photography and some of the technical aspects of taking photos.

In the next two weeks leading to the event, the Changemakers will be participating on Mental Health Workshops that will be delivered by our school district's Mental Health Liaison. The goal of these workshops is to help the Changemakers to understand the working definitions of mental health, the most common mental health issues among youth, and address the questions that Changemakers have about mental health.

Through the support of Speaking Rights Program and the opportunity to participate in this year’s Community Action Projects, we can see the growth and the development of these talented Changemakers in not only taking action but also leading the way in making a difference in their community. It is through programs like this that these Youth Changemakers are able to turn ideas into a reality and advocate for issues that matter to them and their community.

See the VSB-EIYP Community Action Project from last Year:

SYNC (Strong Youth Newcomer Changemakers) -

About the Vancouver School Board's Engaged Immigrant Youth Program

The Engaged Immigrant Youth Program targets immigrant
and refugee youth in Grades 10, 11 and 12 attending VSB schools and is dedicated to working
with school communities to support youth to stay in school and improve their
chances of pursuing meaningful employment and educational opportunities.