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Building Relationships Across Age, Distance, and Field

Since my last blog I have been to Montreal to present at the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse Issues of Substance conference, helped prepare packages for distribution to TDSB schools, travelled to London, ON to attend the first Middlesex London Health Unit hosted Community Drug Strategy meeting, connected with Peer Leader alumnae, engaged in an evaluation model planning meeting with YouthREX, and met with our Toronto Retired Educators Circle (TREC) to gather advice on the development of our intergenerational mentoring program. Meanwhile our Peer Leaders at Central Technical School and Central Algoma Secondary School delivered their second workshop, gathering knowledge about the issues and concerns in their school community.

RE: Issues of Substance… Our wonderful peer leader Abigail Laulman accompanied us in making our presentation with Health Canada on “The Importance of Engagement in Community-Based Prevention Projects”. Having been put on the spot to have the last word (seeing how the focus of the session was on youth engagement), Abigail rose to the occasion to make an appeal to the audience to be patient with youth, that investing in youth may not reap immediate rewards, but to trust that caring adults make a difference. I’m so grateful for Abigail to have reminded the audience that it is crucial to include the youth perspective. Tears well up in my eyes just remembering her contribution.

At that session, we were approached by Khalidah Bello of Middlesex London Health Unit and asked to attend London’s first Community Drug Strategy meeting. Both the impressive turnout – easily 100+ stakeholders in attendance – and their commitment to the Four Pillars Approach (Prevention, Treatment, Enforcement and Harm Reduction) bodes well for the future of this initiative.

While I was grateful that Trinity was included at this meeting, getting the chance to have lunch with our Peer Leader alumnae Jasmine Channana and Jai Fadia, who are attending UWO, really helped make the trip worthwhile. Talking about the value of peer leadership development and youth engagement as an effective prevention measure at a meeting, then an hour later meeting the ‘real deal’ was so rewarding. Such accomplished, assured, compassionate, involved young people… Yet again, the tears well up…

Then today – we had the very good fortune to have two university students / Peer Leader alumnae – Khadija Waseem currently at UofT and Aman Patel at Ryerson U – and a retired educator, John Maitland, join our brainstorming session with YouthREX to develop a logic model for Trinity. We learned a wonderful new term that Khadija uses to describe what Trinity endeavours to do: she calls our work ‘social counselling’. Eloquent, articulate, empowered young people… Geez – those tears are cropping up again…

Later in this same day, our gathering of retired educators engaged in a lively discussion about how to support young people as they navigate the education system. Likeminded, caring older adults figuring out how to continue their connection with youth… If my experience proves anything, Abigail, Jasmine, Jai, Khadija and Aman are the living, breathing, walking, talking, “qualitative and quantitative” outcomes of Trinity’s intergenerational relationships.

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    Trinity provides experiential and integrated learning using the arts and intergenerational interactions to foster peer leadership, personal development and community resilience.

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