YOUNION: youth voice, working together

Sault Ste. Marie


Algoma Family Services

Adult Ally

Barbara Gough

Email Barbara

What makes your group unique?

We are a constantly changing and growing group. Depending on where our individual passions lay, we choose different projects depending on our current group members’ talents and abilities. If someone has an idea or a cause that they are particularly passionate about, we do what we can to accomplish something with that topic as a particular focus. We have a fun, discrimination-free environment, with lots of games, food and activities. We have a youth room that we schedule for activities. We do art expression, skill development and work on our various projects on the evenings that our youth room is open.

If your group had unlimited money what would you use it for?

Our group would do a huge mental health awareness campaign that included prevention and early education as key components and we would ensure that all students, parents and members of our community were educated about mental health and mental illness! We would also open a youth centre in our city and use our funds for youth focused staffing and programming.

What is your favourite food to have at meetings?

We like to mix up the foods that we have at meetings depending on our current group, but pizza, pop, donuts, and chips and standard foods that we love to share!

What is the group’s favourite Icebreaker?

We try to play a different icebreaker each time we meet but we like ones that ask silly questions or have us guessing which secret belongs to each person. We also really enjoy playing Mennonite Manners.

Current Projects

We are developing a youth speakers bureau to share our passions with the community.

Children’s mental health awareness week is happening in May and we are planning an awareness campaign in our schools and the community.

We are developing a mental health manual to educate adults, who work with us, about mental health issues and how we can better be supported, especially in the classroom (we have applied for funding from Dare2Dream for this project).

Healthy Bodies; Healthy Minds is a program project we hope to start soon (provided we receive funding from Dare2Dream) that connects physical and mental health together to emphasise the importance of balance.

We are also planning a photo voice/ art initiative to support International Day against Homophobia.

Previous Projects

The Blue Monday Project

In January 2014, Younion, the New Mentality Group at Algoma Family Services, hosted a special event for ‘Blue Monday.’ Here is their recap:

Blue Monday falls on the third Monday in January and is said to be the most depressing day due to a variety of factors including the short days, January weather, debt from the holidays and amount of time until the next break from school or work. Our group wanted to emphasize the importance of maintaining positive mental health on the most depressing day of the year.

We incorporated an awareness campaign and a fundraising aspect to get the word out about what mental health is, why it is important, how we can maintain our positive mental health and how we can break down the stigma associated with mental illness. Our group gave presentations in our schools, had all the students wearing blue and put on blue bake sales to attract people to our information tables. It was a fantastic event!