Friends, colleagues and partners,
It has been quite the year for each and every one of us. None of us anticipated that 2020 would look like it did. We entered 2020 keen to continue doing good work to facilitate change and strengthen communities, but none of us could have predicted what 2020 had in store for us.
WIth all of that in mind, we want to start with appreciation. Appreciation for our partners, many of whom are front-line community, health and social service providers who have had to go above and beyond at every stage to respond to both the COVID-19 pandemic directly, and the broader impact of COVID-19 on our communities and services. Thank you to service providers, families, young people and communities at large who are doing all they can to curb the spread of COVID-19, and support our communities to adapt in these unprecedented times.
Despite COVID-19, 2020 has been a ground-breaking, record-setting year for our team at Wisdom2Action. We’ve had the honour of building new relationships with partners across the country, undertaking new and exciting initiatives locally, provincially and nationally, and increasing our collective impact for the betterment of all our communities. We want to take this opportunity to highlight some of our greatest successes.
This year, we worked with School Mental Health Ontario and Ontario students to respond to the mental health needs of Ontario secondary school students during COVID-19. We co-created anxiety management strategies, including coping strategies, breathing exercises, distraction activities and more. We also created stellar new resources on mental health literacy and equity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We collaborated with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health, the Canadian Teachers Federation, the Child Welfare League of Canada, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, and Planned Parenthood Toronto to develop new resources to help community, health and social services implement 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion at every level of their organizations.
We worked with the Brain Canada Foundation to convene leaders in the child and youth mental health sector to explore innovative solutions with the potential to have a critical impact on front-line youth mental health services in Canada.
Alongside a coalition of local 2SLGBTQ+ community organizations in the City of Ottawa, we completed a comprehensive community engagement initiative to identify gaps in services and supports for 2SLGBTQ+ communities, and provide concrete recommendations to help strengthen the capacity of Ottawa community, health and social services to meet the needs of 2SLGBTQ+ communities.
Our team worked with Black youth and service providers to explore how our communities and services can address anti-Black racism, support Black youth, and advocate locally and nationally to dismantle systemic racism and improve outcomes for Black youth and communities.
We continued to work with our partners at Children First Canada to enhance student engagement, uplift the voices of young people as leaders and key stakeholders in Canada, and move forward an advocacy agenda to strengthen children’s rights in Canada.
We’ve built new relationships with the YWCA network, working with YWCA Canada, YWCA Metro-Vancouver, and, most recently, YWCA Halifax, to build capacity around trans and gender diverse inclusion.
We’ve had the pleasure of working with the Enchante Network, a national network of 2SLGBTQ+ organizations, to strengthen their programs and procedures and increase their capacity to support front-line organizations in serving and supporting local 2SLGBTQ+ communities.
Our team supported PREVNET in the development of new resources focused on meaningful youth engagement, trauma-informed care and anti-oppression, and have spent the last 12 months working with their national youth advisory council on teen dating violence to co-create new resources, for youth and by youth, on teen dating violence prevention.
Finally, we rallied the children’s rights sector and partners across Canada in support of Bill C-6, federal legislation that would ban conversion therapy in Canada, and ensure that no 2SLGBTQ+ children, youth or adults are subjected to such a traumatic and discredited practice.
In short, it has been a busy year – and these are only some of the highlights! It has been an honour for our team to help organizations across Canada facilitate change and strengthen communities. We see ourselves as a catalyst for change, not just in our individual partnerships and projects, but in every aspect of our work. We are committed, every step of the way, to enhancing our collective impact, strengthening collaboration, and going above and beyond to improve health, well-being and safety for all.
As the year comes to an end, we’re already gearing up for exciting new projects in 2021, notably, our work with RBC Future Launch to explore the implementation of a Canadian youth mental health apps database, and our work with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada exploring gaps in youth suicide prevention research. Stay tuned for more on these and other initiatives in the new year!
Thank you for helping us move the dial forward. We are excited to build on our work and continue to strengthen our collective impact in 2021 and beyond.
Lisa Lachance, Principal Consultant
Fae Johnstone, Principal Consultant
Wisdom2Action Consulting Ltd.