Post-Exchange Design Day Recap: Eight Ideas for Youth Wellbeing

Posted November 23, 2016 Indesign, Stepping Up, youth wellbeing, Frontline Youth Workers, knowledge mobilization, Self-care, youth perspectives, Indigenous youth, racialized youth, LGBTTQQ2SSIA youth, Rural youth

Yumi Numata

 Compiled by Yumi Numata
 YouthREX Communications and Knowledge Mobilization Manager


On Saturday, October 29, YouthREX welcomed over 40 youth sector stakeholders to our Post-Exchange Design Day, hosted in collaboration with the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Youth Opportunity Fund and MaRS Solutions Lab. We were also fortunate to have a team member from Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) start the day off by hosting a wonderful icebreaker activity called ‘Visualizing the System‘ with us.

The goal of this day was to work collaboratively together tackle four ‘thorny’ challenges that youth and youth workers experience through a series of design thinking-based activities such as stakeholder mapping, ideation processes and prototyping. Each group ended up developing one prototype and sharing their idea with the entire group for review and feedback. How might we design youth sector services, programs, and opportunities that critically embrace intersectionality?

How might we critically create positive and inclusive youth development opportunities for all youth? YouthREX will be developing more knowledge mobilization content based on the rich discussions, ideas and feedback we collected throughout the day, so please stay tuned for that. In the meantime, read on for more on the eight ideas/prototypes that were developed!  



Lab 01 // Bringing Our Whole Selves:
Inclusive Programs With and for Racialized LGBTTQQ2SIA Youth

How might we move beyond identifying the service needs and gaps that racialized LGBTTQ2SSI face, to proactively designing pathways to inclusion in the youth sector?

How might we design youth sector services, programs, and opportunities that critically embrace intersectionality?

How might we critically create positive and inclusive youth development opportunities for all youth? 

Group 01 Idea: A QTBIPOC Mental Health Strategy

This strategy would focus on mental health services by and for BIPOCS (Black and Indigenous People of Colour), prioritizing Black and Indigenous service providers. These services would include support by and for peer workers; it aims to address issues of isolation, invisibility, gaps in services and silos. This group stressed that “mental health is not sexy – we don’t need it to be”. There is no pressure to be ‘innovative’, just to meaningfully address the issues at hand.

Group 02 Idea: A Mobile Outreach Team
This team would connect youth in need to services for LGBTTQ youth of colour by travelling to identified sites (ie. schools, community hubs etc) to provide in person support and resources. This idea addresses the lack of existing visible community advocates, and increases outreach and the ability for communities to collectively identify and support youth in need.


Lab 02 // Indigenizing Youth Work
Towards a New Relationship

How might the work of truth and reconciliation unsettle dominant youth sector structures and practices?

How might we learn from and integrate Indigenous experience, history, theory and worldviews into youth work practice?

How might youth sector stakeholders contribute to the development of community-driven and -delivered, holistic prevention-based youth services?

How might we reimagine a youth sector that actively learns from and integrates Indigenous experience and knowledge to better meet the needs of all youth?

Group 01 Idea: Indigenous Youth Leadership Network:

This group asked, ‘how might we design in a different way?’ and concluded that having Indigenous youth leading efforts of youth sector stakeholders to learn from Indigenous experience, history, theory and world views would be key to this process. The group shared the importance of seeing everyone as knowledge keepers, the role of intergenerational learning and exchange, and highlighted how we need to contextualize  all learning processes in relation to land, language and history.

Group 02 Idea: Youth-Informed Website/App on Indigenous Knowledge:

This website would allow youth workers, teachers, non-native allies to ask Indigenous-focused questions directly to Indigenous youth. An online space to learn more about issues related to Indigenous cultural competency, this site would gather youth voices to carry on the Indigenous oral storytelling tradition and increase awareness about Indigenous culture and ways of being while providing a space for people to ask questions and learn in an engaging format.



Lab 03 // Far and Farther:

Equitable Access to Programs, Services and Opportunities for Youth Living in Rural and Remote Communities

How might we meet the specific needs and interests of diverse youth living in rural and/or remote communities?

How might we invest strategically and meaningfully in rural and remote communities to address inequitable access to programs, services, and opportunities for youth?

How might we creatively engage youth in rural and remote communities, and facilitate stronger peer connections? 

Group 01 Idea: Rural Youth Voices Network

This provincial network would include school hubs, youth and community councils, and youth workers and staff at organizations. The network would foster youth leadership in rural communities and allow for positive community change to be initiated directly by youth, with the support of community leaders and existing structures already in place. While the network is broad and wide-reaching, interventions would be specific to each community, based on the needs identified by the youth themselves.

Group 02 Idea: Youth Talk App

This app would address youth facing mental health barriers, linking them to crisis workers, mental health workers, doctors and peer support workers. The app would include a chat, education and support function. It aims to build community and help youth in need by providing a safe, confidential space that includes access to support. 



Lab 04 // Beyond the Individual:

Collective/Community Approaches to Youth Worker Wellbeing

How might we create the conditions for frontline youth work to be a healthy path for those who choose it?

How might be move to a collective, sector-wide approach to ensuring youth worker wellbeing?

How might we cultivate a culture that views youth worker wellbeing as a priority and integral to youth wellbeing?

Group 01 Idea: Youth and Youth Worker Union
A union would give youth workers a space and platform from which to advocate collectively for improved working conditions and equity, potentially addressing issues such as precarious work, lack of mental health support, poverty, social, economic and racial injustice etc.


Group 02 Idea: Online Platform for Youth Workers

This website/app/online platform would be a space for youth workers to connect around advocacy and policy change, expand their network, and find resources, tips and tools to help inform their work.



*As a shameless YouthREX plug, if this idea speaks to you, we encourage you to visit the eXchange for Youth Work, which fulfills some of these elements! We’d love to hear feedback and ideas as we continue developing the eXchange.




We want to thank everyone who attended the day for sharing their time, energy and knowledge with us! This was the first time YouthREX has held an event like this and we learned so much with you. We look forward to connecting further on these Idea Lab topics.

Whether you attended this day or not, if you would like to continue the conversation on one of these topics, or if you’d like to connect on something else entirely, we’d love to hear from you. Please e-mail us at and let us know what your ideas and thoughts are!

Share your thoughts!