Youth Leadership Program

At the Atlantic Summer Institute, this year, we will continue our work in learning and shaping the future agenda of the mental health system in Atlantic Canada during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, the Youth Leadership Program, which is a priority of the Atlantic Summer Institute on Healthy and Safe Communities (ASI), will provide a space for youth to come together virtually and have a voice in shaping the future agenda for children and youth in Atlantic Canada. ASI has learned from previous events how important it is to foster intergenerational learning; therefore, there will be time for youth to both participate in the full ASI 2020 program and convene separately to develop long-lasting connections.

ASI 2020 will be an Atlantic Policy Forum on infant, child and youth mental health promotion, with the theme Upstream investment in Mental Health Promotion: The Answer to the Mental Health Crisis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed our collective vulnerability to the impact of isolation and our struggles to preserve our mental health. It has also highlighted the importance of considering mental health when instituting various policies that protect physical health. Society needs to have ongoing policies and programs that support positive relationships, social networks, education, adequate income, inclusion, and housing – from infancy to youth to older generations. This is why we need to continue working on upstream interventions that promote mental health and accessible services.”

– Patsy Beattie-Huggan (ASI Coordinator)

Who is eligible to apply?
ASI 2020 will support at least five youth from each Atlantic province to participate in this year’s online forum. Young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who are affiliated with a community group and have experience/interest in being an advocate or leader are encouraged to apply. Exceptions to

 the age limit may be made for young people who fit all other criteria. The ASI Youth Leadership Program is inclusive and welcomes youth applicants from all communities and lived experiences including but not limited to BIPOC, LGBTQ2I, and disability. Given the Forum’s focus on upstream solutions to child and youth mental health, we welcome youth with lived experience of mental illness and precursors like poverty, family conflict and homelessness. Youth organizations are encouraged to provide mentorship and support to nominated youth from the application process through to forum participation, to foster their successful engagement in the policy experience.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Applicants must complete the online application available until July 17, 2020.


  1. To provide an opportunity for youth participants to hear and respond to current evidence on the links between child and youth mental health and their social, cultural and physical environments;
  2. To incorporate young people’s perspectives in our collective understanding of “upstream investment” in social, cultural and physical environments;
  3. To develop ongoing channels/networks for youth engagement to improve child and youth mental health; and
  4. To encourage collaboration amongst all age groups throughout the program and after ASI 2020.

Program Design
The program will extend over 3 days (August 24-26), beginning with an online orientation and youth leadership workshop on the morning of August 24th. Following the workshop, youth delegates will join other registrants for the ASI 2020 opening and keynote presentation, and for the full ASI program, August 25th and 26th. To create space for youth voices, roundtable discussions and learning circles will provide opportunities to learn together, build networks and celebrate innovative ideas for upstream investment in mental health promotion. All youth registered for the program are expected to attend these sessions to learn about and celebrate advancements on the Call to Action. In addition, there will be emotional support and safe spaces available during the program. As this is an online event, we are learning together how best to collaborate online and we may need to adapt.

Invitations will be extended through our partner organizations. The ASI Youth Leadership Coordinator, Chantal Peng, will liaise with organizations and provide planning and oversight to the Youth Leadership Program. The program is being planned with input from youth leaders who attended past programs.

For more information, contact:

Chantal Peng
ASI Youth Leadership Coordinator
Cell:                    902-385-6288
ASI office:          902-894-3399

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