Collaboration and Mental Wellness
With the support of RBC Future Launch, amidst the restrictions of the pandemic, Community Foundation Grey Bruce hosted two online interactive Vital Conversations® with young adults late in 2020. These Vital Conversations engaged people between the ages of 18 and 30 on the impacts of the COVID-19, their readiness for a changing work environment, their economic and holistic wellbeing.
The online sessions were facilitated by Melri Wright and Mike Wright of Ledge Leadership. The first meeting took a World Café-style sharing knowledge and creating possibilities for action built on the notion of group intelligence. Participants heard from inspiring local guest speakers: Emily Morrison, Executive Director of Launch Pad Youth Activity and Technology Centre in Hanover; Melanie Rodriguez, Communications and Network Engagement Manager at Ontario Nonprofit Network; and Ashleigh Weeden, an award-winning rural innovator and PhD candidate in Rural Studies at the University of Guelph. All participants joined break out room discussions.
The second meeting, presented in collaboration with Georgian College Centre for Changemaking and Social Innovation, utilized an online design thinking platform that encourages visual collaborative thinking.
The resulting mapping of ideas on the whiteboard revealed a constellation of insights offered by participants:
- Networking and building personal connections are an important aspects of work preparedness.
- Physical and mental health are interconnected so, creating a balance is critical for overall wellness.
- Adaptability will help with developing a career in the current climate.
- Extracurricular activities, such as volunteering and travel, and skill building, such as public speaking and emotional intelligence, are valuable building blocks to employment success.
- Being kind and considerate, to yourself as well as others, will help with staying healthy and positive.
The take-aways from these sessions emphasized the importance of collaboration and partnerships in forging any type of entrepreneurial endeavour. Young adults are also very concerned about supports for mental wellness within their workplaces and homelife, the affects of rural isolation coupled with the lack of regional transportation in Grey Bruce, as well as the challenge of accessing reliable WIFI to stay connected.
One of the “lightening talk” speakers, Ashleigh Weeden, shares “Young people today are leading the way: from environmental and social justice to rethinking the way we learn and work, these are not just ‘future leaders’ but leaders who are making huge impacts now.” Ashleigh highlights the importance of open conversation with youth: “The Vital Conversations project offered an important opportunity to recognize, celebrate, and encourage young leaders to apply their passions and invest their skills in their hometowns, whether that’s through community activism, running for office, or developing an innovative new approach to doing business. As we think about how to not only ‘build back better’ but create entirely new ideas about the future of rural Canada, the way the Vital Conversations process seeks to support rural youth in becoming the lead visionaries in the post-pandemic-project of remaking rural Canada is what makes the work of the Community Foundation of Grey Bruce so important for communities across the region.”
These Vital Conversations were generously sponsored by RBC Future Launch and are mounted with the support of key community partners: Georgian College's Centre for Changemaking and Social Innovation, through their strategic initiative SENCO (Social Enterprise Network of Central Ontario); The Institute of Southern Georgian Bay; and the Nuclear Innovation Institute.