YouthHACK 2017
Youth and Community Collaboratively Creating Solutions

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 // 9am-4:30pm

Thank you to everyone who joined us on February 28, 2017 for YouthHACK2017!

We loved connecting with you and tackling the five real-world challenges that were pitched to us by five awesome youth initiatives in Southwestern ON. 

Keep scrolling to learn more about the ideas and prototypes that were shared at the end of the day. 

About YouthHACK 2017

February, 28, 2017 // 9am-4:30pm

This event was an exciting opportunity for youth, students, design thinkers, youth workers and youth sector community members to work collaboratively together to create solutions for complex issues and barriers faced by people and organizations in the youth sector.

How it worked:

  1. Participants listened to five challenges to be ‘hacked’, presented by five youth initiatives in the Southwestern Ontario region.
  2. Participants then worked in teams on the issue they chose to hack. Break out rooms and a light lunch were provided. Teams came up with a proposed solution through a series of facilitated activities.
  3. At the end of the day, teams presented their final prototype to the organization representatives, who then picked one winning solution.

Click here to learn about the five challenges that were hacked and click here for a recap of the event + descriptions of each prototype!

We also welcomed guest speaker and Executive Director of Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU), Steve Cordes!

Steve joined Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) as its Executive Director in 1988. Under his leadership, YOU has grown into an internationally recognized and award-winning agency. Steve is a sought after speaker who shares his passion, insights and experiences in the areas of community engagement, social enterprise and youth services. Steve holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Western University. He is a recipient of two Paul Harris Fellowships from Rotary International and had held positions at Fanshawe College and Pathways Skills Development. Steve is a former Rotarian and member of numerous community task groups. He has served on the boards of several non-profit organizations and provincial associations.

What is a Hackathon?

Traditionally, a hackathon is a solutions-oriented event used in the tech industry. Computer programmers, coders, graphic designers and others in the industry gather together, and in teams, compete to solve an issue or problem by designing new software or applications. YouthREX is extending this brilliant concept to the youth sector! Check out this link for more information on Hackathons.

This event was hosted by the Youth Research and Evaluation eXchange Southwestern Hub and will be held at King’s College, Western University. This event is free, but registration is required. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Who will be there? Who can participate?

We welcome youth sector stakeholders such as youth workers, community members and youth, as well as students* from technical and non-technical background and design thinkers to join us!

Whether you have knowledge/experience related to one of the four challenges, want to apply your tech or user design skills, or are just plain curious and interested in addressing one of the four challenges pitched, we would love for you to participate. As long as you are open about experiencing a new and fun way of applying your knowledge/interests, excited at the idea of working with a team of people with diverse experiences and perspectives, and committed to supporting youth wellbeing, you’ll probably be a great fit.

If you have a profile on LinkedIn, YouthREX will also award anyone who attends the full YouthHACK day a Credly badge of participation that you can feature on your LinkedIn profile!

*King’s College University and Western University students who participate are eligible to have this noted on your co-curricular record (CCR). The Co-Curricular Record is a program that helps record your personalized history of your Western experience; you can use this record to prepare a document of your activities and experiences, that are then validated by staff and faculty. 

Five organizations, five youth sector challenges to be hacked!

This was a unique and exciting opportunity to work together with fellow participants and creatively problem solve one of the five challenges below pitched by five youth-serving organization. Watch this video or check out this blog post to learn more about the pitches that were shared at the end of the day!

Challenge 01: Communicating the need for a Youth Shelter

Posed by: Windsor Youth Centre (WYC)                                  City: Windsor, Ontario

Challenge to Hack: Windsor does not have a youth shelter.  As a result, youth are often on the streets or couch-surfing at dangerous places because the adult shelter is intimidating.

How do we communicate the need for a youth shelter to the community?

Check out a post-event mini report on this challenge and an overview of YouthHACK2017 here

About the Windsor Youth Centre:

The WYC serves the basic and immediate needs of homeless and at-risk youth in a safe and friendly atmosphere with the aim to foster positive change and growth

Challenge 02: Meaningful Youth Engagement that is Action-Oriented 

Posed by: mindyourmind                          CityLondon, Ontario and Online

Challenge to Hack: mindyourmind’s Design Studio model allows young people work directly with facilitators, content experts, and designers to brainstorm, design, and develop projects. Young people are valued as experts in their own experience and choose to engage in whichever way makes sense for them.  When we engage with youth it is usually (but not always) with a group that has opted in. This group of 8-10 youth effectively speak for all their peers on broad topics. We use the strategies and developments from these studios to guide our strategic direction, programs, apps, games, and content.

How can we apply the opinions of a few youth to an entire program without losing this action-oriented development? Is there a better way for youth and professionals ground themselves in decisions that are good for the majority? How can we use technology and online platforms to help us work together and move our work forward effectively?

Check out a post-event mini report on this challenge and an overview of YouthHACK2017 here

About mindyourmind:

mindyourmind works with young people to co-create interactive tools and innovative resources to build capacity and resilience. Their goals are to promote wellness, reduce the stigma around mental health, and increase access to community supports, both professional and peer-based.

Challenge 03: Combatting the Stigma of the ‘Youth Centre’ Stereotype

Posed by: Fusion Youth Centre                       CityIngersoll, Ontario

Challenge to Hack: The Fusion Youth Centre opened in 2006 and has been offering high quality youth programming to participants aged 12 through 18 for the past 10 years. To this day, Fusion continues to face the same barrier of that it did when the centre first opened, that of being stereotyped. The “Youth Centre” stereotype leads many community members, parents and youth alike to believe that Fusion is only intended for “youth at risk” and that the centre is an unsafe place. Parents believe their children will be exposed to negative influences, which makes them reluctant to allow for participation. Over the years Fusion has worked very hard to crack the Youth Centre stigma and significant progress has been made. However, there is still large percentage of the community that believes that the Fusion Youth Centre is a place for youth to just congregate and make poor choices.

How can we breakdown the stigma of being a centre for “youth at risk” once and for all? How do we help our people in our community truly see the value of the safe space and the amazing programming opportunities we provide (for example: technology, media production, and leadership) for youth?

Check out a post-event mini report on this challenge and an overview of YouthHACK2017 here

About Fusion Youth Centre

Fusion Youth Centre’s mission is that youth-directed initiatives will guide our team to provide a fun, safe, and inclusive environment where youth know they belong, and are empowered to make positive changes in their lives. They serve youth aged 12-18 and provide programs in arts, music and recording, sports, technology, drop-in activities as well as summer camps.

Challenge 04: Youth-Led Community Development and Burn Out

Posed by: Twelve Canada                      City: London, Ontario

Challenge to Hack: Young community facilitators are skilled at taking participatory action and are capable of helping organizations, workplaces, and communities to achieve greater impact. However, the wisdom of these young facilitators often fails to impact the way that these organizations operate because many are unprepared to practice participatory community development. As a result, many of our world’s most compassionate young community facilitators burn out and stop pursuing their dreams.

What tangible supports do young community facilitators, inside and outside of organizations, need to avoid burnout so that they can continue to help adult-led organizations to take participatory action?

Check out a post-event mini report on this challenge and an overview of YouthHACK2017 here

About TwelveCanada

TwelveCanada’s mission is to extend a homebase of young community facilitators to organizations ready to take participatory action.  They work with organizations ready to take participatory action and young people who are working to facilitate participatory change and can provide support in the form of: real-time evaluation, community facilitation, intergenerational team building, community organizing, action research, training and workshops, and readiness assessments.

Challenge 05: Connecting Youth with Resources and Opportunities

Posed by: Boys & Girls Club                City: London, Ontario

Challenge to Hack: The Boys & Girls Club is not known for providing opportunities for youth as we offer a wide variety of children’s programs, and our brand does not reflect a focus on youth services. Many young people are unaware of the programs and services that we offer.  Other youth serving agencies have indicated a similar challenge in promoting and connecting with youth in London.  Many programs struggle to reach the number of participants that they have the capacity to support, and to provide them with the valuable opportunities that they have to offer including: tutoring, access to scholarships, pre-employment training, leadership, life skills training, sports, arts, and other recreational activities. There is no sustainable mechanism to connect youth with the programs and services that are currently available.  Additionally, there is no city wide platform where youth are able to inform and help develop programs and services to ensure that they meet their unique needs.

How can the Boys & Girls Club inform and connect with youth (high school students) throughout London? What type of platform would allow youth to easily engage with information about programs and services, as well as help inform the development of new opportunities for young people?

Check out a post-event mini report on this challenge and an overview of YouthHACK2017 here

About the Boys & Girls Club of London

The Boys & Girls Club of London is an affordable, safe and supportive family facility where children, youth, adults and seniors can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships and develop confidence, leadership and skills for life. They serve people of all ages, from youth to seniors, providing a variety of programming including sport and recreation programs, educational programs and day camps.

Questions? Contact Us!

Contact YouthREX’s Southwestern Hub Manager, Laura Hogarth, Ph.D. at or call (519) 282-6766.

Location: Student Life Centre, King’s University College, 266 Epworth Ave

Getting Here: Click here for information on how to get to Kings University College. If you are driving, parking is free.