The switch from elementary school to high school daunting. The transition can be tough for a lot of reasons; more responsibility, bigger school, changes in friend groups, harder classes… and these challenges can have a direct effect on whether students are feeling and doing their best.
This is why we were excited to receive funding through the LesLois Shaw Foundation to co-create an online eLearning resource with young people. We worked closely with the staff at The Spot Youth Centre, located in North York, ON, to recruit and meet with young people over the course of a weekend to have conversations about the challenges young people have as they make the leap into high school.
A great mix of students, aged 13-18 from North York, ON, who were about to, or had recently, transitioned into high school. Kaylin, Blanca, Linecia, Harlan, Ruby, Farzana, Jasmin, Rodney, Ronneak, Ross, Devante and Rashaun (with Andrew as co-facilitator) worked with us, with the help of The Spot Youth Centre and with support from the LesLois Shaw Foundation.
We worked with youth to co-create an online Elearning resource for students transitioning into high school. The result is On to the Next - which includes interactive tools and resources that have already been co-created with youth from mindyourmind.ca, as well supplemental information, tools and activities for youth to learn/complete that will culminate in a personal success plan for that student to turn to in order to:
- Know what mental health/wellness is, and how it impacts their life
- Feel supported, have a support plan
- Have access to information about resources
- Define what a successful school year would look like for them
We also added a new North York region to Be Safe to complement the work we did in that area of Toronto with this project.
The group met over a weekend in March of 2016 and identified the key content that they thought would be helpful to young high school students. They also and helped us create the concepts for the design. Another group met in August of 2016 to review the draft, make edits and suggestions and give general feedback on the resource.
Many young people find the switch from elementary school to high school daunting. The transition can be tough for a lot of reasons. Having some information about school and community resources, mental health, how to get involved and healthy relationships as they make that leap can help students to do and feel their best.
On to the Next is being piloted in North York classrooms in 2016/2017.
We invited the youth team to write a letter to their younger or future self about the hopes, challenges and advice they might give while transitioning into high school:
“...I know you are quiet and stuff but I know you gonna do you and make yaself proud… you ma home girl! All you got is yourself because you entering a new system of life, so choose carefully and wisely, which I know you gonna do...”
“...starting to care about your life would be good advice you should take, because not caring about getting in trouble and getting low marks and acting reckless, being immature ain’t going to get you anywhere in the future…”
“...I am looking forward to a school that will help me to achieve my dream profession. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and making friends with them…”
“Don’t talk sh!t.”
“...I was worried about making it into the high school I applied for, how much it was going to change my life and how much harder it’s going to be to earn good grades…”
“...High School isn’t as scary as you think. There aren’t as many rude people as you think. Meeting new people isn’t gonna hurt you…”
“...Don’t worry about the people around you and friends. All the right people will fall into place. Don’t follow bad company and try to be someone you are not...”
“...you’re going to lose friends that you thought would be by your side while you go through problems and phases in your life. Don’t worry though. YOu’ll meet new amazing people and they’ll be by your side. They’ll become your true friends and you’ll make more on the way…”
“...I’m looking to earn money, to stay focused and participate in extracurricular activities…..seems like a chance to come, in a sense, to adulthood…”
“...go to class and stay focused. There will always be a group of people who will put you down. I want you to be a leader.”
“...you might feel a little scared about many different things in high school and how you’re going to fit in or make new friends. The best advice I can give to you is to be yourself. Don’t try to follow the crowd. You are your own person…everything happens for a reason and you’re going to be successful in the end.”