Grove Hubs Wellington Guelph expands Youth Advisory Council

A tidy room with a TV and a pride flag is in the background of the Grove logo.
The Grove Hubs in Wellington County have expanded their Youth Advisory Council. Palmerston was always in operation with My YAC, but two new councils are up and running and Fergus' YAC has been bolstered. Photo(s) via The Grove Youth Wellness Hubs website.
Riley Gillespie-Wilson - CICW - FergusON | 03-11-2023
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A new group of youth are leading the way towards mental health initiatives and programming within the community. The Grove Hubs Wellington Guelph announced this week they have expanded their Youth Advisory Council (YAC) to all four hubs in the area.

The YAC now has youth members, aged 12-26 working in Erin, Guelph, Palmerston, and Fergus. Recent initiatives from YAC members include a prom dress shopping event that recycled donated clothing and a ghost painting event.

Youth ambassador of the Fergus site Marisa Barbosa says the expansion in Fergus meant a jump from four members per meeting, to a new group of ten-to-eleven each time the council gathers at the Grove Hub.The My YAC program in Palmerston has consistently been in operation, but the other hubs are now included in the Youth Advisory Council on top of the additional bodies in Fergus. Barbosa said hearing the voice of youth within the community is paramount.

"It's just really important to get that youth feedback, because the space is for them- we say we are for youth by youth," Barbosa explained.

"Having that youth feedback to really drive what we're implementing, from our skills and wellbeing programming to things going on in the community. It's really important to highlight youth voices, especially when it comes to their mental health in the community," she went on.

Barbosa says the program started in 2020, so she and others involved are conscientious of the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of youth in the area.

"Especially for young youth who weren't able to go to school, they really missed that social aspect. That can be such a huge part of wellness and mental health," Barbosa said.

"[And] especially here, you can see the impact that COVID really did have on young people. I think it's important having them in spaces like this; letting them know what services are available to them," she added.

Barbosa said engaging youth is her number one priority. She added she wants youth to be the driving force of their wellness journeys, and their voices within the Grove are integral to the implementation of services.

The YAC is making an effort to create more equity and diversity, Barbosa stated. That spans throughout programming and partnering with committees to coordinate and host youth events.

The council now meets once a month at each of the sites following the expansion.

Listen to the CICW story below: