As many of you know, I’ve been road tripping across the province via Zoom!
Last week I had the chance to visit our New Mentality group in Kirkland Lake, with our partner agency North Eastern Ontario Family and Children’s Services (NEOFACS). Before the pandemic I was eager to visit Kirkland Lake, as I had heard so many great things about it from Mary-Anne, The New Mentality’s Program Manager!
Even though I wasn’t able to physically visit, my virtual visit was nothing short of absolutely amazing. The adult allies have been doing an awesome job keeping everyone engaged in this virtual world by dropping off pizza and snacks before the meeting (I know, I know, super cool!)
For our New Mentality group in Kirkland Lake the restrictions with the pandemic have been quite different. A couple months ago, they were able to go bowling while social distancing and now are building relationships through Zoom.
During my group visit, we played a game of Scribbl.io which is a super fun game of Pictionary. Myself and one of the adult allies for our New Mentality Kirkland Lake group played this game during Disable the Label this past summer during a wellness night session! It is such a fun and competitive game, and let me tell you we really got into it… some folks even went and brought their stylus to play this game! I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in some time. I apologize again to the group for my very poor drawing of Bambi….
After such a fun game, we talked about life in Kirkland Lake and I learned that some students drive a snowmobile to school, which solidified even more that I would like to move up there!
Though the meeting was only meant to be an hour long, we stayed on the line just getting to know each other and connecting. The youth and I talked about the issues that are important to us to advocate for in the Child and Youth Mental Health system. One issue that was important is the experiences of Indigenous folks accessing services, and how important it is to see your identity reflected in your counsellor. Racialized youth should not need to question their identity in order to appeal to a system that wasn’t built for them in the first place. There is a need to build a system that breaks barriers, and recognizes all cultures and experiences.
I can’t completely describe the feeling I had while visiting the youth and adult allies, but it was one of acceptance, laughter, and genuine connection. Ever since I’ve visited, I’ve been eager to visit again and also redeem myself in another game of Scribbl.io… I’m coming back for that #1 spot!
I look forward to continuing my zoom road trip across the province, and getting to meet all of you. I’m not surprised at all and very proud to see all of you continuously going above and beyond to change the Child and Youth Mental Health system.
See you all soon on zoom,
Fizza Abbas, Network Coordinator