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 safety, healthy relationships and well-being.
It provides students with an opportunity to engage in meaningful work that reaches beyond the walls of their school, explores their values and develops leadership skills to advocate for social change.
What do Youth Champions do?
Over the course of a school year, identified students in participating high schools attend Youth Forums to engage in learning about:
- brain architecture and the impact of stress
- identifying healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships
- seeking help for self and others.
Forums also provide an opportunity for students to share ideas and strategize with peers from other schools about how to meaningfully apply their learning in their school-community. Each team of Youth Champions takes action to develop and lead a project/activity/event designed to raise awareness about healthy relationships, resiliency and the importance of reaching out for support when needed.
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?
In the 2017-18 school year, 16 high schools from the following districts participated:
- Calgary Board of Education (CBE)
- Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD)
- Rocky View Schools
- Foothills School Division
- Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools
- Red Deer Public School District
- Red Deer Catholic School District
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