Adult Ally Youth Engagement Excellence Awards

The New Mentality Excellence in Youth Engagement Award is granted to adult allies who have been pioneers and visionaries in shaping the field of youth engagement. They are provincial leaders in youth engagement and have made significant contributions to The New Mentality. These adult allies have created meaningful partnerships between youth and adult that have allowed for genuine youth engagement to happen.

Congratulations to Tammy Halliday, Kelly Giuliani, Lisa Kalfus, Nancy Hood, Rita Gidillini, Michelle Moran, Angela Culham, and Brenda Allard!!

These inspiring adult allies have overcome significant systemic barriers to make youth engagement happen in their communities. They have contributed their own personal time and resources and have demonstrated wildly resourceful and creative solutions to extremely complex problems related to youth engagement. They have changed the lives of the youth that have crossed their path; the importance of an adult ally cannot be underestimated. Having an adult ally that believes in you, that will fight for the work you’re doing makes all the difference. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication!
Our adult ally awards recipients were honoured at an awards reception at CMHO’s annual conference. Entertainment and awards hosting was provided by the Spoke N Heard Collective!

Tammy Halliday

Tammy Halliday has been much loved by The New Mentality Group at Pathways for Children and Youth for many years. She faithfully ensures the group is well supported, even driving each youth home after meetings. Tammy has worked with her colleagues at Pathways to champion Youth Engagement practice so that the agency sees it as a core part of the work of the agency. She has always brought the largest (and wildest!) co-hort of youth to The New Mentality’s Disable the Label training. She has served on The New Mentality’s Core Team, providing governance and leadership support and has offered The Art of Youth Engagement training for staff and youth. Tammy makes sure that the Youth Engagement language and training materials make sense to front-line Child and Youth Workers, like herself. She’s practical and honest and cares deeply for every youth she’s worked with, be it in the classroom where she spends her days or in the New Mentality group where she spends many nights.

Kelly Giuliani

Kelly Giuliani is a leader extraordinaire! She has the longest-running New Mentality group and the largest mental health promotion events. When Kelly first got into Youth Engagement, in 2007, it made sense immediately. She was then a Program Coordinator for a mentorship program with Reach Out Centre for Kids. She could see that youth had a lot to offer, as shown by the powerful youth mentors she matched with younger children. With a small, mighty team of youth leaders and agency partners, Kelly’s group has been able to host 5 Disable the Label conferences in Halton region. These events bring together representatives from each of the high-schools in the District to learn about mental health and plan Children’s Mental Health Week events. Kelly knows how to work with youth, how to creatively partner with other agencies and how to make a big impact. The youth she has supported over the years have been some of the strongest voices and leaders in The New Mentality development.

Lisa Kalfus

Lisa is one of the only Managers to have significantly contributed to The New Mentality. Lisa holds the responsibility of Managing the Residential Program at New Path Youth and Family Services in Simcoe County. Lisa has been a very active volunteer and leader for The New Mentality. She has served on The New Mentality’s Core Team, providing governance support and has worked with many agencies as a Youth Engagement trainer. Lisa has helped the field of Youth Engagement grow by practicing and sharing how youth can be engaged in a residential program. Her work to transform her agency’s annual general meetings, allowing them to be youth-led is a marvel and a model for others to follow. She has worked with us on a provincial level to get funding for The New Mentality and on a local level to ensure that Youth Engagement is thoroughly evaluated. Lisa has been a champion of youth engagement in her region bringing together all the children’s services in Simcoe for Youth Engagement training. Lisa is an in-the-field expert and we are so grateful for all that she teaches us.

Nancy Hood

Nancy Hood started her career with The New Mentality. In that way, she was positioned at the very start of the movement for Youth Engagement. She started with the program at the very beginning in 2007. Her work created the sector’s first implementation guide for youth-adult partnerships, called Ready…Set…Engage. She was also instrumental in building the Art of Youth Engagement training program now delivered by the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health. Nancy was more than a thought leader, she dynamically engaged youth in all kind of areas including evaluation, governance and led the New Mentality Speakers Bureau of youth who made presentations in schools and conferences. Nancy wanted to test her ideas in an agency and took the role as Youth Engagement Coordinator for Nexus in 2011. There she was instrumental in embedding Youth Engagement as a core practice for the drop-in centre and helped Peel Children’s Centre and Nexus meet the Youth Engagement accreditation standards during the Canadian Centre for Accreditation site review. Those standards she helped draft, setting the bar for the whole province and paving the way for Youth Engagement to be embedded as a Core Process in the system

Rita Gidillini

Rita’s Youth Engagement work is a tour de force! She managed to support her youth through the growing pains of those first couple years when none of her colleagues knew what she was talking about and had to consistently ask permission from the agency to modify rules, policies and procedures that would allow for youth volunteers to lead and create their own events on behalf of Windsor Regional Children’s Centre. She’s no stranger to late night meetings at Tim Hortons or hospital bake sales to get her group the support it needs. She’s always able to adapt and get ready to move with each new youth’s big idea. She’s supported a wildly successful battle of the bands, a children’s festival, a volleyball tournament and a partnership with the Children’s Aid Society to promote youth engagement. Rita was on the Advisory Committee when the Art of Youth Engagement training program was being developed and piloted. She was eager to take risks because she knows the power of Youth Engagement and wants to help other agencies and staff see for themselves. When she’s at Disable the Label, she always positive, upbeat and ready for a game of soccer. All youth, not only the one’s she brings trust Rita and knows she embodies “Adult Ally”.

Michelle Moran

Michelle Moran was more than a formative contributor to The New Mentality, she was a mentor. Long before The New Mentality came on the scene, Michelle was embedding Youth Engagement practice into her newly developed bullying-prevention program, RISE. Michelle was a manager for the very youthful and engaging East Metro Youth Services in Scarborough. Michelle is one of the best trainers in Youth Engagement there is. Even before the Art of Youth Engagement training program, Michelle was working with SafeGuards to deliver her own training. She even partnered with Nancy Hood to jointly offer their program. When the Youth Engagement Accreditation Standards were written they named the bar of excellence that Michelle and her colleagues had set. It was Michelle who graciously helped to pilot test those standards and Michelle who helped ensure the training program provided not only good theory but practical application as well. When she would come to Disable the Label and share her thoughts and advice on Youth Engagement, the whole room would be captivated. When the agency wanted Youth Engagement to be part of all the Community Programs, Michelle didn’t hesitate to help her staff work in these new ways. Michelle is the Adult Ally’s Adult Ally.

Angela Culham

Angela has been working in Lanark County for youth for many years. As a front-line clinician, Angela has an easy time building rapport with young people. When Angela was first introduced to Youth Engagement and worked with her first cohort of youth, Youth Overcoming Pressure (YOP), she lit the passion in their eyes and the eyes of the agency. Together, with Angela’s support, the youth wrote a book called Drug Speak, recounting true stories of drug use and recovery for young people. Now, in the second generation of The New Mentality group now called Just a Couple of Teens Talking, Anglela and her youth Leader, Jaydon are uniting the all the other schools in the youth-led movement for mental health and awareness. It is a reflection of Angela’s skill in youth engagement as a clinical intervention and health promotion endeavour that, during a recent meeting with her agency, Open Doors, the Clinical Director talked about The New Mentality as being the most effective population-based mental health treatment they have.

Brenda Allard

Brenda never misses a chance to advocate for the rights of youth. She doesn’t hesitate to ask the tough questions, “Is there an honorarium for youth? How is power shared equally with youth? How are youth not tokenized by this staff’s ideas?” For more than 20 years Brenda has been working with Youth Services Bureau. She supports 6 or more youth committees on topics ranging from sexual health to ethno-cultural youth engagement. When The New Mentality started, Brenda took us to school! “Don’t forget this” and “make sure to do that”, she would say. Of course, she would be right. Her knowledge and understanding of how to engage youth, how to create pathways in agencies to engage youth, how to engage her supervisors and directors so she can engage youth is decade ahead of many others. Brenda has been walking the walk and talking the talk long before the term “Youth Engagement” came around. Her tenacity and power ensures that her programs and The New Mentality stays ‘real’ and stays accountable to youth.