Submitted by Isaac
Youth Community Action Project participant
I was a part of the CMHA Cowichan Valley Youth Advisory Committee last year and did a few Mental Wellness activities. In the summer, I learned about the Youth Community Action Project from Ray Anthony, so I met up with him and we chatted about it. It seemed really interesting, and I loved the idea of helping our community through volunteering so I applied, and in August we started. The Youth CAP is being funded by the Government of Canada through the Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement and the Kiwanis Club of Duncan. The project is to provide 10 youth participants, including myself, with experiential education and volunteer opportunities to gain leadership and social skills.
The other 9 youth participants in this project are really cool and I'm lucky enough to have known a few already. It made me a bit nervous to think I'd only know a few of the people there, and once we started it I wasn't sure how I felt. Maybe nervous, scared, excited, or all of the above. But once we got to working I started getting really into it.
I especially felt this when I went to volunteer at Warmland Shelter in the kitchen for the first time, which is something I get to do because of this project. The first time I was nervous it was gonna scare me, but when I got there it was very fun. I enjoyed working in the kitchen with Chef Rena, I got to make a variety of things with one of the other project members Ryan, I've wanted to learn how to cook more stuff and improve my knowledge of cooking for a long while and I feel this experience helped with that. The only thing I would change about the experience is the long back-and-forth trips on the bus because it’s like an hour long trip either way! It's a good time to relax and listen to music though especially when you get to take the bus with your friends, and sometimes I get to take it with the people I know from the program which is always super nice.
The experiences and learning I've gained from this program, as well as the friends and acquaintances I've made along the way have been far more rewarding than anything else so far, including the stipends that we receive for our participation in the program. But that stipend money has also been helping me a lot. I've been struggling with homelessness for a little while now and this program has helped me with my mental health when and coping with the sad parts of life. It’s also helped me find happiness and wellness in the past weeks. Talking to supportive adults and the rest of the program participants is fun and enjoyable, and I know it really does improve my mental health and wellness. Whether it be planning stuff to do or actually doing stuff, the Youth CAP team stays entertained but mostly on task. Meeting new people and having fun is what I'm enjoying most about this program. In general, I wanna work with kids more - that's like my second favourite volunteer activity other than doing ecological restoration work… maybe third favourite if doing restoration work with kids was ever an option!
I hope this program receives more funding so that it can run annually and support more teens. So far it's been an enjoyable and rewarding experience in my life and it's something I'd suggest for kids around my age to do in the future.
March 30, 2021 Update:
Our second Youth Community Action Project is coming to an end and it has been wildly successful. Thank you again to the Government of Canada for funding Youth CAP through the Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement and also to Kiwanis Club of Duncan for their support.
Ten youth participants were selected through an application process led by CMHA Cowichan Valley Branch Project Coordinator Ray Anthony. The project's objective is to provide participants with in-house, hands-on education opportunities to gain leadership/social skills such as team-building, communication, self-care/wellness, problem-solving, conflict resolution, goal setting, and action planning. These participants were tasked with weekly community service projects, working on Youth Action Week and partnered with the Shuswap Youth Launch.
We have included a link to the team's newsletter detailing their impressive 12 weeks of accomplishments. Thank you to Youth CAP participant Rhindhem Randhawa for putting this beautiful newsletter together for us.
The CMHA Cowichan Valley Branch is pleased to announce a new program delivered through the Open Door Youth Services Centre.
This new project - the Youth Community Action Project (Youth CAP) - will provide participants with in-house, experiential education opportunities to gain leadership/social skills such as team-building, communication, self-care/wellness, problem solving, conflict resolution, goal setting and action planning. Funding is being provided by the Government of Canada through the Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement.
The Youth CAP will also provide participants with an introduction to Mental Health topics such as anxiety, depression, and promoting self-care through an in-house, youth co-created/facilitated Mindful Wellness Workshop. Further, participants will learn how to access services and supports for themselves and their peers. Youth CAP will provide formal skills training including: Food Safe (Safer Food Duncan) and First Aid (Cowichan Valley Training Center). We will also provide training on how to use social media (Jillian Lawrence Inc.) to promote Mental Health Awareness and Education, and online/virtual youth supports. The in-house and formal training components of Youth CAP have been included not only to improve employability, but importantly to provide the skills necessary to maximize the effectiveness and impacts of the community service project work.
The CMHA-CVB is very excited to provide meaningful opportunities for Youth CAP participants to perform valuable community service to the most vulnerable members of our community. The community service component, supervised and supported by the Program Coordinator, will provide participants with experience for improved employment outcomes as well as increased access to post-secondary opportunities (entrance and scholarships). Through our excellent working relationship with School District 79, we anticipate that not only will school aged participants be able to continue with the project through September-December, they will also receive academic credit for their participation.
The CMHA-CVB looks forward to providing youth participants with the experience of a strong connection to their community and a true sense of value and belonging. We also welcome community ideas for potential service opportunities for our participants. We would also like to thank the Kiwanis Club of Duncan for sponsoring Youth CAP’s community service projects. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available and all donations will go directly towards the teams’ s community service initiatives. For more information, please send us an email.