Interactive online conversations featuring youth workers, young people and researchers

How can we leverage online platforms to facilitate connection, community-building, and peer support among youth? How can we reach, engage, and support youth who may be experiencing social isolation?

This engaging and timely conversation explored how organizations are using new and existing online platforms to engage youth, build communities, and facilitate peer-to-peer support.

The conversation featured organizations that have been using these approaches for years, as well as programs that have effectively adapted to providing online community-building opportunities in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our guests included:

The conversation was co-facilitated by Katelyn Wang, Executive Director, L.I.G.H.T.

Michelle McClure has been involved with Ability Online since 1990. As a Recreation Therapist at Bloorview MacMillan Centre, she introduced the therapeutic value of Ability Online in the rehabilitation of children with disabilities. Michelle successfully completed The Executive Program at York in 2001. Her business acumen is complemented by her exceptional understanding of children with disabilities through her Masters Degree in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of Waterloo. Professional achievements: recipient of the Community Action Award (Ontario government), nominated for the Women on the Move award, and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Waterloo (2008).

Hayley Moody (she/her) is a queer, two-spirit mixed-race Anishinaabekwe with roots from along the shores of Georgian Bay, England, and Germany, and currently lives in Gitche Namewikwedong [Owen Sound] on Saugeen territory. Most of her work has centered around sexual violence advocacy, and working with youth in a counselling and support role, always prioritizing healing as an act of resistance. She spends a lot of her time being critical of the Canadian colonial state, and dreaming of land reclamation and youth-led revolutions. She can also be found watching ridiculous TV shows, putting maple syrup on all foods, and finding ways to connect to her traditional territory.

Jonathon Reed has a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Education focused on boyhood masculinities. With a background in activism, he seeks to empower young people to think critically and make their voices heard. Jonathon is a longtime advocate for LGBTQ+ youth and has years of experience working with boys to expand definitions of masculinity. He coordinates and facilitates Next Gen Men’s youth programs, is a member of the National Youth Working Group on Gender Equality and MenEngage Youth Reference Group, and creates a podcast centred on the inner lives of boys called Breaking the Boy Code.

Katelyn Wang (she/her) is a second year Pathobiology and Global Health student who strives to engage the community through capacity building and sustainable youth action. Currently, she serves as the Executive Director of L.I.G.H.T. (Lead Inspire Grow Hope Transform), a youth-led grassroots organization centered around community initiatives, empathy building, advocacy and empowerment. In February, she was selected as a delegate at the 64th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. In response to COVID-19, Katelyn co-founded Young Ontarians United, a research initiative seeking to understand how youth have been affected by the pandemic, and in turn, develop policy recommendations to the provincial government.


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