Supporting wellness for young people leaving foster care

Finding and sharing ways to support mental wellness for young people is one way we can give them the opportunities and support they need to thrive as adults. On June 5th 2015 we hosted a one day workshop called Supporting Wellness Through Transitions: A Knowledge Exchange Forum to build on the expertise within frontline staff and the broader community.

Improving and expanding mental health practice

Over 40 people who work directly with young people ageing out of foster care joined us to share information on the current state of mental health service provision. We had productive conversations on concrete steps that can be taken immediately to improve and expand their own practice in this area, as well as acknowledging and reinforcing the things that are working well already.

While there are many systems challenges, it is clear that a lot of expertise already resides among those who do this work every day.

Mindfulness for teens

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Dr. Dzung Vo, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine, presented his work on mindfulness for teens. His talk beautifully wove together the latest findings from brain research with mindfulness practices that can be used by anyone (and only take 5 minutes or less!). We practiced mindfulness together in the room, to experience the benefits and learn new techniques.

For more information, audio and video resources, and to find out what youth think about using these techniques, visit www.mindfulnessforteens.com.

Knowledge camps and peer exchange

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The afternoon was devoted to peer knowledge exchange and specific knowledge camps. Groups worked on questions such as, “What are the ways we contribute and support the wellness of young people?” and “What practices can we share to learn from and inspire each other?” Participants worked in pairs and small groups to uncover, categorize and share wellness practices.

We also held Knowledge Camps that gave people a chance to explore topics such as Therapeutic Yoga, Arts-based Youth Engagement, Equine Assisted Counseling, and Creating A Culture of Wellness.

What happens next?

All of our learnings will be compiled and shared back with those who participated, as well as made available to everyone else via this website.

Findings from this forum will also inform ongoing work by our shared learning and evaluation working group and other Fostering Change team activities.