BGC Canada (formerly Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada) has received $100,000 from TELUS Friendly Future Foundation to revitalize and update their popular Flex Your Head youth mental wellness program and create content that better reflects the world young people are living in today.
For over 120 years, BGC Clubs across the country have fostered the well-being of kids and teens by removing barriers and creating opportunities—and that has been more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic as research shows that 70% of youth ages 6 – 18 have experienced a downturn in their mental health. As young people continue to navigate the repercussions of a changed world, providing them with mental health education is crucial.
Flex Your Head is a universal mental health program developed to help youth 13+ think about, talk about, and understand issues of mental health and wellness in a safe, fun, and welcoming environment. Through this program, youth are given knowledge, skills, and strategies to cope with stress and promote positive mental health and wellness.
The new funding from TELUS Friendly Future Foundation will allow BGC Canada to adapt Flex Your Head to the current realities youth face, including:
- Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion best practices to support BIPOC and 2S & LGBTQIA+ youth
- updated trauma-informed approaches and content that respond to current pandemic stressors (effect of isolation, family conflict, etc.)
- optimizing the program for virtual environments while retaining an active peer-based format
Fully refreshed with learning guides, modules, virtual class activities, and current research, the 12-week program will be available for Clubs to run in-person or virtually. A key part of TELUS Friendly Future Foundation’s support is leveraging technology to modernize Flex Your Head. The program also includes cutting-edge staff training that will have a positive impact on all the programs and services offered by individual Clubs.
“We’ve heard from our charity partners like BGC Canada about the challenges youth across the country are facing when it comes to their mental wellness and the potential long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Shanan Spencer-Brown, Executive Director of the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation. “We are proud to provide BGC Canada with a national grant that will use technology to optimize Flex Your Head and help more youth build resiliency in a safe, engaging, and inclusive environment.”
“Flex Your Head played an important role in helping me balance mental health and productivity,” says Savannah Lapensee, Regional Youth of the Year and BGC Cornwall/SDG alumni. “And while the program was impactful, as someone who identifies with the LGBTQ+ community, it’s great to see the work being done to include the specific barriers faced by LGBTQIA2S+ and BIPOC youth. The more we can learn, listen, and empathize with others, the better.”
Flex Your Head normalizes the tough conversations worth having and highlights the importance of removing stigmas around mental health. The program offers a safe space for youth to interact and learn with peers and caring adults and share experiences with others in a positive way that benefits everyone involved.
“Flex Your Head truly encourages youth to talk about and understand mental health. This program has impacted many of our BGC youth by teaching them coping mechanisms and by helping them gain knowledge of a positive mental health lifestyle,” says Kalie Richardson, Club staff, BGC Cornwall/SDG. “With mental health issues on the rise, youth need a supportive place where they can feel understood and accepted. Adapting Flex Your Head to run not only in person, but virtually for those who cannot make it in person, is very beneficial and needed. We need to reach and support as many youth as we can!”
Thanks to generous funding from TELUS Friendly Future Foundation, BGC Clubs will have new tools and resources to support the mental wellness of youth across the country when they need it the most.