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In 2004, the Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington Dufferin helped fund a play written by a drama teacher at John F. Ross called ‘A Permanent Solution’. This play touched on the important, and often, undiscussed issue of youth suicide. The student and teacher response to this play was very positive, and there was a strong call for a follow up initiative that focused on educating youth on suicide awareness and prevention. This is how YouthTALK was born. Now funded by United Way, YouthTALK has in-school teams in schools all over the Wellington Dufferin area, as well as an open regional team that accepts members from Wellington-Dufferin and Kitchener-Waterloo.
In-School Teams – In partnership with the Upper Grand District School Board and Wellington Catholic District School Board, these high school teams focus on raising awareness around mental health and suicide prevention. Using a peer-led approach these teams run projects throughout the year that they feel will engage their peers. The projects can range from small activities run over the lunch hour to large assemblies or in-school conferences that run over a period or an entire day. Below are pictures of popular projects.
Want to get involved with YouthTALK? If your school does not have a YouthTALK team, but you and your friends are interested in starting one, talk to your guidance counsellor, CYW, social worker, Vice Principle or a trusted teacher about your interest then contact the YouthTALK facilitator at firstname.lastname@example.org
Regional Team – The main project and responsibility of the Regional Team is to plan, organize and facilitate the Regional Youth Conference that takes place in the spring of every year and is offered to students from all over Wellington-Dufferin and Kitchener-Waterloo. The youth not only decide what workshops and speakers they would like to present to the visiting students, but they plan and run the workshops as well! The youth become real leaders in mental health awareness and suicide prevention. They are offered the opportunity to learn new skills for themselves and pass on those skills and knowledge to their peers. Youth are the best judge of how to offer information, skills and resources to their peers and the key to preventing suicide.