Gilbert Park Going Places: Community engagement

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Gilbert Park Going Places is an innovative mental health initiative designed for 9-14 year olds that promotes positive youth mental health through community engagement. The program was started in the year 2007 under the umbrella of a community health center in Winnipeg, Manitoba called NorWest Co-op Community Health as a way to provide services to a vulnerable population of young people who live in the social housing complex known as Gilbert Park which houses approximately 1000 residents who primarily identify as Aboriginal and Newcomer.The strategic plan for Gilbert Park Going Places includes objectives such as improving the anger management and problem solving skills of youth, increasing awareness of social programs, reducing bullying behavior, enhancing school performance, and increasing leadership and mentorship potential. The overall goal and impetus for the youth cent was to decrease the number of suicides and mental health issues and youth who become involved in gangs. To accomplish these goals and objectives NorWest Co-op Community Health partnered with Canadian gang expert and author of “Young Thugs”, Michael Chettleburgh (2007). Funding from various sources including the Government of Manitoba was secured and two social workers and two skill development workers were hired to carry out the objectives. The program operates six days a week from 3:30pm-7pm Monday-Friday and from 11:00am-5pm on Saturdays. A combination of skill development/recreation, mentorship, and leadership programs are carried out to ensure that youth feel a sense of belonging and start to seek help for some of their mental health issues. Because the program employs two social workers they are able to provide counselling and support groups that other after school programs are not able to offer. Each social worker has a counselling caseload of 40 people which can also include the parents of youth involved in the program. Gilbert Park Going Places has enjoyed numerous successes since its inception. Attendance for programs continues at capacity and many youth have graduated from various leadership opportunities and have continued to mentor youth younger than them. Youth have assumed leadership roles in cultural programming and last year hosted a Gilbert Park community Powwow with over 500 people in attendance. Overall suicide rates have decreased and police involvement in the community has also declined. Gilbert Park Going Places is a community based approach to improving youth mental health and preventing mental illness that has been shown to be effective.

Poster First Author: 
Stephanie Ens
Conference Presented At: 
IAYMH 2015
Poster Date: 
October, 2015
Subject Area Tag: