With Mary England, 2021 Graduate, Carson Graham Secondary School
YouthLAB is a Family Services North Shore initiative created to bring attention to mental health issues affecting young people. Made up of 12 high school student volunteers from across the North Shore, the group meets throughout the year to learn, discuss and create art around mental health topics, including anxiety, depression, trauma, eating disorders, mindfulness, healthy relationships and social justice.
Each year, YouthLAB creates an outreach project to engage youth on mental health and social justice topics, reduce stigma, and create stronger, healthier communities. This year, the group made a video about youth mental health.
The North Vancouver School District invited recent graduate Mary England to share her experiences with YouthLAB and this video project. Read what she had to say below.
Why was it important for you to become involved with YouthLAB?
Family Services of the North Shore is an amazing organization that provides counselling and support to families and children. I wanted to be part of something that would change the lives of others. It was an incredible feeling knowing I would be helping youth in the community.
I learned so much about youth mental health, including how to become a support system for other youth in the community. I also gained confidence to speak in front of others about my feelings concerning the issues facing youth and what I thought could be done to make a change and a difference.
I was able to listen, learn and emulate the leadership qualities that were readily demonstrated by my YouthLAB coordinators. Due to their enthusiasm, I have developed a sense of community involvement and belonging and a passion for making a difference. I want to improve the lives of all youth by showing them that they are not alone and that there are people that care.
Volunteering in YouthLAB truly was a life-changing experience.
Why did students choose this video project?
We chose a video format because we knew that in this day and age, youth connect online and with social media, and we thought a video would be a great way to interact and get involved in their lives. During COVID-19, the video format was a sensible option that allowed us to deliver our message while safely maintaining social distancing.
Last year, we created a booklet that was distributed to teens. This year, we wanted to create a different form of expression that would not only share real life stories but also highlight support services available for youth.
What were you hoping to achieve in producing the video?
YouthLAB's purpose is to connect with youth, provide support and services to at-risk youth in the community, and to let youth know that what they are feeling is real and valid and that people care about them. We want to bring awareness to the issues facing youth and provide services for youth to get help. As YouthLAB members, we express our feelings in various ways through different forms of artwork, which has allowed each and every youth to find something to connect and relate to within our outreach project each year.
Who was your target audience for this video project?
Youth, with a special focus on the diversity of youth, as we wanted all young people to feel included and valued. We hope to not only connect with at-risk youth, but with all youth in order to educate them by sharing our knowledge and experiences. This ultimately allows other youth to help make a difference as they gain awareness, develop compassion for others and then get involved in their community.
What is the video's key message(s)?
We wanted the video to convey to youth that they are not alone in their struggles, that there are people who care and are listening, and that there are people that want to help and support them. The video, and the booklet made last year, provide a list of services available for youth to access in order to get the support, help and guidance they need to take steps towards a better, happier and more fulfilling life.
For more information about the services provided by Family Services North Shore, including YouthLAB, please visit the website.