Mood Walks Summit 2017

Mood Walks Summit Program (PDF)

8:30-9:00 Registration & Breakfast
9:00-9:25 Welcome and Introductions | Greeting
9:25-9:45 Mood Walks for Youth in Transition: Project Results | PDF
9:45-10:30 Storytelling Activity
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:00 Panel 1 — Nature for All: Diversity and Inclusion
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-2:00 Physical Activity Break: Urban Poling / Hiking / Skating
2:00-3:15 Panel 2 — Youth Engagement
3:15-3:30 Break
3:30-4:45 Panel 3 — Campus Mental Health
4:45-5:00 Wrap-up and Closing 




Who’s Been Here? Why We All Belong in the Outside
The benefits of time spent in nature are numerous and real. So, shouldn’t they be available to us all? But with the whole world seemingly available to us in the palm of our hand via the devices we all love so much, it may not seem unreasonable to ask: do we even need to go outside? The answer is, of course, an emphatic yes! But, we also need to ask: who should be there? The answer is, of course, everyone! Why? Because something significant is lost when nature experience is absent from life. More importantly, much is gained when it is present. All of us need to experience nature, and it is vital that participation in nature be diverse and inclusive. How do we make that happen?

Mark Yearwood, Founder and Executive Director 
Kids in the Woods Initiative
Mark A. Yearwood is the Founder and Executive Director of Kids In the Woods Initiative – K.I.W.I., a nonprofit organization dedicated to reconnecting children to nature through adventure-play and mentoring in Toronto’s Rouge National Urban Park. K.I.W.I. is committed to increasing diversity and inclusion in outdoor recreation. Mark holds degrees from Western University, and Osgoode Hall Law School. A writer on the health and well-being of children, his work has appeared in the Globe & Mail, the National Post and Toronto Star. He currently sits on the Board of Directors at Earth Day Canada.

Being in Nature: Prescription for Better Health
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Exposure to natural areas fosters physiological and psychological well being. Parks and natural environments are stress busters — promoting physical health, minimizing pressures related to urban environments, boost productivity, improve immunity, and promote healing. To tap this immense health potential, Credit Valley Conservation through its Health and Wellness program, offers opportunities for members of community health centres, long-term care homes, community support service agencies and hospitals, to engage in nature based health therapy to retain their health in a holistic manner.

Ashoo Anand, Senior Coordinator, Multicultural Outreach
Credit Valley Conservation Area
In her role as the Senior Coordinator, Multicultural Outreach, for Credit Valley Conservation, Ashoo Anand has been involved in connecting and building partnerships with the community-based organizations in the Peel region. Being an immigrant, she understands the challenges newcomers face in Canada and their lack of connectivity with their local natural environment. Through her multicultural outreach program she tries to develop programs that can appropriately engage our linguistically and culturally diverse communities in environmental education, awareness, and informed actions.

Putting the North in Focus: Importance of the Land for Inuit Mental Health
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North in Focus (NIF) is a non-profit organization, led by four university students, which promotes mental wellness in Northern Canadian communities. NIF facilitates weeklong workshops for youth, combining digital media, sport, and the outdoors, with mental health education. The NIF team has just returned from facilitating a program in Nain, Nunatsiavut (the Inuit region in Northern Labrador). From October 31 to November 4, NIF visited high school classes to discuss mental health and facilitate after-school recreational activities related to self-care and stigma reduction. The impact of physical movement in nature is intertwined with the North in Focus program.

Gabrielle Foss, Co-founder 
North in Focus
Gabrielle Foss, Co-founder of North in Focus is a National Scholar at Western University, currently in her second year of a Health Science and Business Administration dual degree. She finds great joy in the outdoors, whether she is running through local trails, or paddling the lakes of Algonquin Provincial Park. She is drawn to the Arctic for both its natural and cultural beauty, as well as its challenges. Gabrielle is passionate about engaging youth to promote self-care, self-esteem, and self-efficacy, and applies this interest to empowering the future leaders of the North.

Becca Cambridge, NIF Ambassador
North in Focus
Becca Cambridge is a North in Focus Ambassador. Originally from Orillia, Ontario, she is currently studying Environmental Science and Psychology at Western University. She chose to get involved with North in Focus because she is very passionate about mental wellness and how our outside environment can affect our mental health!


OUTDOOR ACTIVITY (1:00-2:00 pm)

Get outside and move! Choose one of the following outdoor activities.

During a 1-hour physical activity break, participants had the option to go skating on the Natrel Rink at Harbourfront Centre at Harbourfront Center, the “most scenic rink in the city”! It has a heated indoor change room with lockers and washrooms. Vouchers for rentals were provided.

Mood Walk: Hike the Waterfront Trail
Some participants joined us for a 1-hour walk on the Waterfront Trail led by experienced Hike Leaders. The walk provided views of Toronto Harbour, the islands and the Toronto Urban landscape. As a part of the walk, breathing and meditation was emphasized for the first half and sharing of favourite walking experiences was encouraged during the second half. Mood words to sum up the experience were solicited at the end of the Walk.

Participants were recommended to wear weather-appropriate clothing and footwear with treads that have a good grip in case of snow and icy conditions.

Urban Poling
Participants had the option to learn about the benefits of Nordic Walking and how to effectively teach a program within a centre setting. In addition to elevating mood and general sense of well-being, urban poling promotes a healthy lifestyle, including stress and pain management, weight management, improvements in metabolic and cardiovascular fitness. Urban poling also promotes improvement in overall quality of life which is currently supported by well over 175+ research studies. This workshop took participants through the research as well as the basics of Nordic Walking while enabling them to feel comfortable teaching some of the techniques.

Diana Oliver is a dynamic business professional with a extensive background in marketing, sales and fitness. She has a passion for promoting the many health benefits of Urban Poling, which stems from her personal experience. Diana combined Urban Poling with other positive lifestyle choices to regain a healthy weight and improve her cardiovascular health following two strenuous pregnancies. Her positive recovery has instilled a drive to help change the face of health care in Canada. In 2012 she became a certified urban poling instructor and taught classes in her own Pilates business. In 2014 became a partner in Urban Poling Inc.

PANEL 2 — YOUTH ENGAGEMENT (2:00 pm-3:15 pm)

Opportunities for Youth Leadership within Mood Walks 
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The Mood Walks campaign was rolled out within the framework of our youth engagement group.  We offered the program within our YEwG (Youth Engagement working Group) and had youth become advisors and hike leaders. Youth took lead on hike-planning, data collection and roll up, and assistance in the Harvest Festival weekend booth we had set up. We can offer a presentation on how we embedded the Mood Walks to be youth-led, using the Youth Engagement framework from the Centre of Excellence. We are building capacity among our organization to support youth who are at risk of, or experiencing, mental health issues. The YEwG is a group of young people, through the support of Lynwood Charlton Centre, that advocate for the awareness of mental health in youth. The youth in this group come from a variety of schools and programs within the city of Hamilton – together we work at breaking down the barriers around mental health stigma.  We strive to be a voice for those suffering with mental health challenges.  The YEwG has taken on the leadership responsibility in bringing a new initiative to youth in the Hamilton community. We had our youth present at the Disable the Label conference in July 2016, we presented at Harvest Fest, and continued to have our bi-weekly hikes from early Spring to late fall. 

Selina Buesink, Registered Psychotherapist 
Lynwood Charlton Centre
Selina Buesink, Registered Psychotherapist, is a hike enthusiast, artist, and a mental health anti-stigma champion. Selina obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Guelph and then completed graduate training in Art Therapy from the Toronto Art Therapy Institute in 2007. Selina was the clinical supervisor of the adult day program at Aptus Centres in Toronto until 2009, thereafter she started working at Lynwood Charlton Centre’s Compass Day Treatment program as Team Leader/Art therapist. Within this role at Compass Selina has been given the opportunity to co-lead the Youth Engagement working Group and therefore take part in the implementation of the Mood Walks program.

Esther Nicholson, Youth Advisor 
Lynwood Charlton Centre
Esther is a youth advocate for mental health and a representative for mood walks. She grew up in the Amazon rainforest, traveled to and across Canada, and lived in both Ontario and British Columbia. Each climate and destination offered a unique but beautiful aspect of nature. Esther has always found that a connection to nature directly impacts her mental health. Also, having an artistic and musical expressive outlet play a huge role in her mental well-being. Moving to a city and being deprived of sunlight, fresh air and the easy accessibility to nature caused her to become severely depressed and anxious. Discovering mood walks however was a pivotal step in her journey to recovery and has lead her to meet new people, find a new expressive outlet and make lifelong friends. 

Engaging Youth through the Youth Research and Evaluation eXchange
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We know that youth engagement contributes to wellbeing not only for youth, but also for organizations, communities, and systems. In this presentation you will learn about how YouthREX integrates youth engagement as a core component of our work. Strategies that we use to “walk the talk” include positioning youth engagement as a guiding organizational principle, building it into our customized evaluation support service pledge, and supporting a Youth Advisory Council and the NOISE for Social Change program where youth collaboratively lead social action projects with York University students. We share “best practices” related to youth engagement in evaluation in our online course: Program Evaluation for Youth Wellbeing. We also create a forum for youth worker dialogue, networking and sharing in our face-to-face certificate course: Critical Youth Work: Bridging Theory and Practice, as well as a sector-wide forum for exchange at our conference and events. In addition to ongoing work and placement opportunities for youth, we feature youth voice in our monthly webinars and on our blog. Our Knowledge Mobilization hub, “the eXchange for youth wellbeing” features youth perspectives as well as research and evaluation summaries, fact sheets, infographics, reports, tools and resources relate to youth engagement and more.

Rebecca Houwer, Knowledge Exchange Manager
Rebecca Houwer is the Knowledge Exchange Manager for YouthREX and a Ph.D. Candidate in the Faculty of Education at York University. She has worked in the youth sector for ten years in a range of organizations and roles. She is the author of Changing Leaders, Leading Change: a Leadership Development Model for Marginalized Youth in Urban Communities. Her doctoral research explores the possibilities of learning through participation in community-based action research, knowledge production, and social change.

Walking the Talk: Engaging Youth in Mental Health
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This presentation will share evidence-informed models and tools to support organizations and communities to improve their engagement of young people in all aspects of mental health service delivery and planning. Specifically, it will showcase the Walking the Talk: Engaging Youth in Mental Health toolkit recently launched by the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health. Walking the Talk is a unique, online toolkit that was co-developed and co-designed with young people. Informed by the experiences of young people and implementation science, the toolkit brings together research on youth engagement and practical tools and examples to help organizations shift towards a model of meaningful youth engagement for the benefit of the organization, young people and community more broadly. 

Focusing on the Centre’s theory of change for youth engagement (embedded in the toolkit), which provides a framework through which agencies can incorporate youth engagement at every level of their organization. Drawing on tools and examples from the toolkit, participants will be able to explore the four key domains of the theory of change for youth engagement: agency readiness, positive youth development, openings and possibilities, and broadening and strengthening. 

Muna Mohamed, Youth Advisor
Ontario Centre for Excellence in Child and Youth Mental Health
Muna Mohamed is a 4th year Public Affairs and Policy Management student at Carleton University. She is a provincial mental health advocate with a dedication to implementing anti-oppressive practices in youth serving agencies. Muna is a youth advisor for the Ontario Centre of Excellence for child and youth mental health. Through her work, she supports youth serving mental health agencies in better understanding the benefits and implementation of youth engagement practices.

PANEL 3: CAMPUS MENTAL HEALTH (3:30pm-4:45 pm)

Campus Mental Health and Community Connections
The Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health (CICMH) helps Ontario’s colleges and universities enhance capacity to support student mental health and well-being. CICMH is a partnership project involving Colleges Ontario, the Council of Ontario Universities, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, the College Student Alliance, and support from the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division.

Shafiqullah Aziz, Stakeholder Engagement and Communications Coordinator
Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health

Mood Routes: Embodied Program Development 
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Oftentimes, programs are developed to fix a need or fill a gap. But what about programs that aren’t about what’s missing? What about programs that start with a spark, launch on a leap of faith, and develop as they run? This is Ryerson University’s Mood Routes. We officially launched Ryerson’s version of Mood Walks mid-semester, a challenging time, with midterms hovering or just passed, September’s energy waning, and stamina lessening. And yet, what better moment to start a program that has as its core taking a rejuvenating break from the screens and sitting of lectures, studying, and meetings. With a little bit of promo, sketches of routes imagined, and kernels of connections and ideas, we took that leap and started to walk.

John Hannah, Director, Special Projects, Student Affairs, Ryerson University
Ryerson University
John has been an educator for many years, and an outdoor enthusiast for even more. He looks for the ways in which these common interests capture the link between student wellbeing and academic success. He’s a strong believer that walking outside with others is a simple act that embodies that idea. 

Deena Kara Shaffer, Learning and Transition Programs Specialist 
Ryerson University
Deena Kara Shaffer is a learning specialist in Ryerson University’s disability services office, and co-initiated its campus Mood Routes walking/rolling program. Deena is also a doctoral candidate, studying how excursions in nature can be used as learning strategies, a published poet, freelance writer on education and wellness, and a mother of two girls. 

Aysha Azeez, Ryerson Student and Peer Notetaking Program Assistant
Ryerson University
Aysha Azeez is in her fourth year pursuing a Bachelor’s of Commerce at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, majoring in Economics and Management Science. She also works for Ryerson Student Learning Support, and that is where she was introduced to and became an enthusiastic mentor for Mood Routes.

Lesley D’Souza, Manager of Student Affairs Storytelling
Ryerson University

Arrive and Thrive: Incorporating weekly nature hikes into a larger campus-based program targeting addiction and mental health in the student population.
Arrive and Thrive is an 18-month program at McMaster University funded through the Mental Health Innovation Fund under the Ontario Ministry for Advanced Education and Skills Development. Arrive and Thrive is made up of a series of skill building classes using a harm reduction and non-judgemental approach to help students cope with everyday stress and begin to address the negative impact of substance use. Classes to help students learn about mindfulness, reduce procrastination behaviours, and increase physical activity are offered weekly and evaluated on a number of indicators. Further, a single-session motivational interview is used to help students begin a journey of exploring a change in their substance use behaviours. This session will explore the various program interventions run underneath the Arrive and Thrive umbrella and present preliminary results of the evaluations. Further, quantitative and qualitative results from our Mood Walks pilot project (called WIND – Walk In Nature Days) will be presented, along with a discussion of the barriers, challenges and opportunities that have and continue to exist.

Allan Fein, Research and Project Manager
McMaster University, Arrive and Thrive Program
Allan is currently the Research and Project Coordinator for the Arrive and Thrive Project at McMaster University. Allan has about twenty years of experience in health promotion program planning and evaluation within non-profit and post-secondary settings. With an additional background in community sport, outdoor education and residential camping for youth, the Mood Walks program was a natural and desired fit for Allan and the Arrive and Thrive team.


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