The retreat opened with all participants being asked “why is it important for you to be here?” A sense of nervousness and uncertainty arose in the room. For many, the motivation to attend stemmed from a place of ‘caring for the cause’, while others honestly admitted that they did not yet know why it was important for them to be there.
Activities forced us out of our comfort zones, and challenged all participants (youth and adults alike) to find our voice. We came to the gathering representing a group, holding some sort of title, but those were quickly abandoned as a natural sense of community emerged.
Together we crafted a vision for an ideal system, discussed current circumstances, crafted plans of action and realized that change is a product of each person working towards a common vision within a trusting and supportive community.
This Disable The Label event was unlike any other. For the first time the focus was not on training, but on sharing knowledge, experience and visions of hope. The experts in the room were the participants themselves – a concept which for many at first felt foreign, but in the end seem to have an empowering impact as each person realized why it was “important for them to be there.” The week closed with each person, openly and proudly, announcing the skills/attributes that they have had to contribute towards strengthening Ontario’s youth mental health system.