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Over half a million young people in Ontario are providing care for family members or friends with a physical or mental health challenge while balancing the demands of school, work, and life.

What challenges do these young caregivers experience and what opportunities exist for support and adult allyship?

How can we better recognize the caregiving by young people and the critical role they play in their families?

How can we better include young caregivers in discussions about caregiving?

On Thursday, June 24th, the Ontario Caregiver Organization and YouthREX hosted an engaging discussion about the experiences of young caregivers and what young caregivers want you to know.

Our special guests included Liam Genik and Jillian Lynch.

The conversation was facilitated by Kathleen Slemon, Program Lead, Peer Support and Young Caregiver Initiatives, Ontario Caregiver Organization, and Kathe Rogers, Program Director, YouthREX.

Relevant Resources:

Liam Genik, Young Caregiver
Liam is a young volunteer with the Ontario Caregiver Organization. His experience as a young caregiver began when he was in the 11th grade caring for his grandparents. His grandfather had Alzheimer's and his grandmother had severe arthritis, so helping with mobility around the apartment, making food, and just being there to ensure that they were taken care of were some of the responsibilities he had as a young caregiver. He is looking forward to sharing the many factors that cause young caregivers to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and eventually burnt out in this webinar conversation.

Jillian Lynch, Young Caregiver
Jillian is a caregiver to her younger brother, Myles Lynch. Myles was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a rare genetic disease that affects the secretion glands, the lungs, and the digestive system. Throughout her childhood, Jillian frequently cared for her brother and visited him in the children's hospital. In 2014, Jillian played a critical role in stabilizing Myles’s health before he was airlifted to SickKids Hospital. Myles has since become the first Canadian to successfully receive three double lung transplants (2014, 2017, 2019). Throughout this experience, Jillian completed a Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology and has worked for the SickKids Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation, and The Neighborhood Group. In her spare time, Jillian is deeply devoted to improving patient and caregiver experiences through advocacy work, peer support, and fundraising initiatives. She has recently been recognized as a Top 30 Under 30 Changemaker through York University and hopes to build a career in optimizing supports for other young caregivers.

Kathleen Slemon, MA, is the Program Lead, Peer Support at the Ontario Caregiver Organization. She supervises the Organization’s Peer Support and Young Caregiver Programming. She also has lived experience as a young caregiver. Connect with Kathleen on LinkedIn. Follow the Ontario Caregiver Organization on Twitter and Instagram.

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