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Creating Positive Space for LGBTQ+ Youth in Halton

ROCK (Reach out Center for Kids) has been the Lead Agency for child and youth mental health in Halton since 2014. Recognizing the need to support youth in the LGBTQ+ community they started the Positive Space Network (PSN).

The goal of PSN is to create a safe space for youth, ages 12 to 24, where they can hang out, engage in activities, find resources and support their mental health.

Pre-COVID, three hour meetings, or hang outs, were held monthly in Oakville, Burlington, Georgetown, Acton and Milton. These meetings are normally attended by up to 40 youth. The groups are facilitated by the Youth Drop-In Coordinator, the Resource Co-ordinator and a Mental Health Specialist.

“With COVID we have moved to 1.5 hour virtual meetings on Zoom” says Joanna Liss, PSN Youth Drop-In Coordinator. The negative side to this is attendance has declined slightly with the online format. Liss speculates the reason for the decline may be the lack of contact or screen fatigue with everyone now learning online. On the positive side, online meetings have meant that participants have access to any of the five monthly meetings and not just the one in their location and there have been some new “faces” at the meetings as some youth are more comfortable behind the screen. PSN is exploring having both the in-person and virtual formats post COVID-19.

Connections is another program stream offered by PSN, specifically for transgender and non-binary youth and their families. This program is broken up in to three groups, ages 6-12, 12-24 and parent/caregivers. It is lead by volunteers who have lived experience with about 15 youth and five parent/caregivers participating. The parent group has asked for a second monthly meeting which is being launched next week.

All programs are currently running on their regular day but are on ZOOM from 4-6:30 pm.


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