From our friend Julian Caspari, Community Mission Specialist at Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario

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This election, the Heart and Stroke Foundation is engaging voters and candidates across the province in the goal of creating a healthier province. What is unique about the Healthy Candidates campaign is that we are creating a positive, win-win opportunity for candidates and voters alike. Our campaign website (www.HealthyCandidates.ca) allows voters to challenge their candidate to ‘go healthy’ and to congratulate the candidates that have taken that important step.

With nearly 300 candidates signed on, almost 75% of all registered candidates from the four main parties have now pledged to take action on health promotion and prevention through the Healthy Candidates campaign.  A powerful demonstration of political will made even more remarkable by the cross-partisan nature of the support – every party now has more than 30% of candidates signed on with that number growing every day.

The unprecedented success of this campaign demonstrates that health promotion is an issue that transcends party politics.  When campaigns mostly highlight what separates each party – this is an issue for which there is a rare consensus.  Each party recognizes that we must do more and that this is a vital priority for Ontario voters.

Here are the policy recommendations being adopted by Healthy Candidates across the province:

1.      Childhood Obesity
-          Making schools centres for health, including bringing food education into the classroom and supporting physical activity requirements in schools.
-          Community planning that makes public spaces accessible and builds
           local economy.
-          Active Play and After School: Promotion of informal play space for
           children and youth outside of schools
-          Supporting community food centres to address healthy food supply
           system from farm to table in an equitable manner
-          Calorie counts on menus

2.      Tobacco Control
-          Reducing retail outlet density
-          Contraband Public Education
-          Comprehensive smoking cessation system
-          Protecting people from involuntary smoke exposure
-          Adequate funding to support tobacco control

We know you share these goals. Please help us get the word out by blogging, tweeting and Facebooking about this innovative campaign. Together we can put Ontario on the road to being the healthiest province. Visit www.HealthyCandidates.ca to get involved!

 
 
Our friends at United Way of Chatham-Kent hosted a Workshop in a Box dialogue session with a number of youth in the community using the Ministry of Children and Youth Services toolkit: http://youthconnect.ca/YPF They were kind enough to share their experiences with us in the following prose...

-Roger Mak, Ontario Youth Matter Campaign Liaison
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On Saturday June 5th
The United Way of Chatham-Kent hosted an opportunity for youth
Ages 12-25
To collide.
To come together under an intention toward open
Safe
Supported expression
Aiming to create change
And provide conversation to a government that is looking to empower youth
Through policy that will give youth structure upon which to stand
And upon which to continue to speak.
As facilitators of the event
We provided challenging
Fresh
Permeable
Spaces for the youth to use in order to find room to develop their voice.
And to form their ideas.
We turned to ART - 
That blurry intersection between grand social theories
Abstract conceptualism
And physical creations – 
And interactive art installations to give
Ground
To the weight of the kids’ words.
 
We decided, in one exercise, to take them hitchhiking.
We grabbed a old bedsheet, gave the group some markers
And chatted about what it meant to be risky.
What does it mean to be safe?
Hitchhiking can certainly be considered risky behaviour
So as we happily hopscotch into our hypothetical hitchhike
We asked the group what types of thinking
What ways of thinking
Is it best to bring with us?
What do we need to pack before we head on a risky journey?
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We decided, in another exercise, to make a garden.
Giving each student 2 printed hands
We encouraged them to write on one hand the 5 things they liked most about
themselves
On the other hand, the five things they would like to change.
We attached the hands to sticks, and planted our own self-efficacy garden.
We encouraged the group to see how if both are watered, both grow.
We choose which parts of ourselves to water

And thus, we choose how our gardens grow.
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We decided, in another exercise, to draw a tree.
Taking the topic of identity formation as our frame
We encouraged the group to use their answers to form a tree.
From roots
To trunk
To branches
To blossoms
To new growth on the ground beside and below
The youth that day grew a tree
Giving themselves the oxygen
The space
The soapbox
From which to speak.
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Things are changing in Chatham-Kent.
This group of youth is a prime reason why.
This was their chance to
Find
Use
Nurture
And
Share their voice with other like minds.
 
We can not wait to show you what else they can do.
 
 
On behalf of the organizing team that day,
 
Mark Reinhart
 
 
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In May, OYM is planning to host a consultation somewhere in Ontario to discuss how a Youth Policy Framework can benefit as much youth as possible in an accessible and comprehensive manner. Feedback gathered will be provided to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services as they continue to develop the Framework.

Question of the Day: How do we make sure that for OYM's consultations, we engage youth who's voices are rarely heard while avoiding further stigmatization?
 
 
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Thanks to everyone for making the Ontario Youth Matter Orientation a success! On Tuesday April 26, the OYM Orientation took place at the Laidlaw Foundation offices. A strong group of more than 30 people joined in the session, with a good mix of youth and adult allies present.

The goals of the Orientation were to rekindle existing relationships and to build new ones with fresh faces around the table. It was also an opportunity to review OYM's campaign goals and develop action plans for the next 6 months with three newly established Sub-Committees:

·      Government Relations

·      Resource

·      Youth Engagement

The night started off with a recap of the four campaign goals that we are engaged in for the rest of the year:

1.          A province-wide outcomes-based youth policy framework with broad political "buy-in" across political parties and ministries.

2.          Involved, supported youth who are energized to influence policy that affects them by actively engaging in the campaign and serving as leaders.

3.          A high functioning campaign team with clear roles, an increased capacity to carry out the work, and the potential to "leave a legacy" for those who want to build on it.

4.          Public discourse on the issues concerning youth has been incited and the critical issues are on the election agenda.

After introductions, we organized into break out groups based on Sub-Committee affiliation. The breakout groups discussed projects for the upcoming months, such as hosting our own consultations on the Youth Policy Framework being developed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, ramping up our youth engagement strategy so that we walk the talk at all times, and building up a stronger public presence. At each session, everyone was asked to brainstorm ideas and list their expertise according to the campaign goals and tasks of their respective Sub-Committee. At the end of the night, people were visibly energized and buzzing with enthusiasm for what lies ahead.

Dates for the first Sub-Committee meetings are being worked out in the next few days, but the work seems to be already underway – we've already heard from some members that they are starting to draft a Terms of Reference!

Looks like OYM will be quite loud in the coming months!

~ Roger Mak, Ontario Youth Matter Campaign Liaison

 
 
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Ontario Youth Matter is hosting an event this week with youth and adult allies from a number of organizations to build on the following areas relating to the Youth Policy Framework:

- Youth Engagement
- Government Relations
- Communications

Question of the Day: In one word, what will success look or feel like at this event?
 
 
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On Friday April 15, the Ontario Youth Matter Steering Committee attended the day-long Youth Policy Framework Research Forum at the Ontario Science Centre. Those who attended include people from youth-serving organizations, various Ministries (Children and Youth Services, Aboriginal Affairs, Citizenship and Immigration, Community and Social Services, Education, Health Promotion and Sport Directions), the Youth Development Committee (25 youth leaders appointed by MCYS), as well as researchers commissioned to present findings from Universities across Ontario (Brock, McMaster, Western Ontario, Windsor, York). Alvin Curling, co-author of the Report on Roots of Youth Violence showed up to lend his support as a participant as well.

The Youth Policy Framework was introduced as picking up where the Early Years strategy leaves off – by looking at ‘developmental trajectories’ for youth ages 11-25. The MCYS staff and researchers stressed the importance of a user-friendly resource that is holistic, accurate, and useful for everyone including people in the frontlines (families, doctors, teachers, etc), community planning level, and governments. The term ‘maps’ was used as a metaphor for the Youth Policy Framework – the need for clear signposts and indicators in order to make sure youth are on the right path of development. The developmental trajectories presented included 4 domains (physical, cognitive, emotional, social) and with the self/spirit overlapping each domain.

Throughout the day, roundtable discussions were held on the state of research on youth development. These were reports synthesized and collated research based on one or multiple domains, which feeds towards the wider framework. Near the closing of the Forum, it was announced that feedback will be solicited through three ways in the near future:

  • 12 in-person consultations facilitated by the Youth Development Committee across Ontario starting May 1 running till June 5
  • An online forum to submit feedback to the same questions posed at the in-person meetings
  • Workshop in a box, which will be a toolkit for youth groups and organizations to host their own consultations and send feedback that way
According to the Ministry, these consultations will ask youth to reflect on what government can do and what they should stop doing in promoting positive youth development. Details of where and how to provide feedback to the Youth Policy Framework process will be posted as soon as we get our hands on it!

The day was topped off by a Q&A that sought feedback from youth who were present, as well as adult allies. The Ministry extended a recognition to OYM and thanked us for our leadership in pushing for a Youth Policy Framework. There is still a long ways to go in developing and implementing an outcomes-based framework, but it is encouraging to see the hard work that the MCYS and researchers are putting into releasing the first phase of this resource.


~ Roger Mak, Ontario Youth Matter Campaign Liaison
 
 
A report on the facilitated planning session that was held in January of 2011 has been posted to the Reources section of our website.
 
 
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