Responding to the Needs of Our Youth
In our local high schools, students with mental health challenges are facing a harsh reality. If they don’t fit within specific guidelines of a diagnosis, they are left to fend for themselves, often resulting in chronic absenteeism, disconnecting from school and school-based activities, and eventually leading to a withdrawal from school altogether.
Carizon Family and Community Services, in partnership with the Waterloo Region District School Board, received a grant from The KWCF to develop specialized programming to address the needs of these at-risk students.
The program allows students to leave their home high school to receive educational support and clinical counselling for up to one school year. It used to exist in another form through the school board, but the partnership with Carizon activated a therapeutic shift in focus. Students are engaged in alternative education opportunities, and over time, re-build the trust and relationships that are often lost through their struggles with anxiety. This program creates a space for them to feel comfortable, and to engage and grow in ways that a traditional school setting might not foster.
Following the program, students return to their home school with credits toward graduation and the skills needed to be open, positive and active members of their schools. These students are now becoming role models to their peers, diving headfirst into new-found passions and connecting more with their community.
The KWCF recognizes that with some creativity, openness to collaboration and passion, a once stagnant program can be transformed into something that engenders belonging and makes a lasting difference in this community.