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Making it mobilization friendly

“Sometimes you look for opportunities, sometimes opportunities present themselves. The success of this mindyourmind Zine Design Studio Session came from our willingness to take a chance and seize an opening when it came along. With community support, we were able to find youth brave and open enough to join us in this journey.”
– Tammy, Coordinator, Regional Children’s Centre


1. What goal were you trying to achieve by mobilizing this information with youth?

The Regional Children’s Centre in the Windsor-Essex County was contacted by Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)’s Service Area Collaborative (Children First, Family Respite Maryvale and Regional Children’s Centre) about the opportunity of working on a joint project with mindyourmind and our core mental health service providers in the region.  We discussed the prospect of hosting a Zine Design Studio Session. This project involved staff from CAMH and mindyourmind coming to Windsor to work with youth, adult allies and members from the Windsor-Essex service area Youth Engagement Committee. They would teach our committee members, adult alliess and youth how to use the zine method as a way of sharing information in a fun and youth friendly manner.

This was an engaging conversation that provided us with the opportunity to address another longstanding issue. Previously, we hosted consultations with youth as an opportunity to provide feedback on the mental health services in our area. Through the support of the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health, we provided the community with feedback on the findings in a report format. From here, the Service Area Collaborative (Children First, Family Respite, Maryvale and Regional Children’s Centre) hosted a youth engagement primer for staff. We also shared the findings from the report, but had not yet shared the report with youth. It just wasn’t in a format that most youth would want to read. In that first discussion about the Zine Design Studio Session, a plan was created to bring young people and adult partners from the Windsor-Essex area together to create a zine as a youth friendly way of sharing the results from the consultations on child and youth mental health services in the community.


2. What format did you use to share the information?

We used the zine method to transform our report into a youth-friendly format. Zine is the short form of the word magazine. Now it is commonly known as a small-circulation of original work. Often people use small blocks of paper and a variety of old magazine or photocopies. Historically, zines were only black and white, now they can be as bold and colourful as ours.

“Personally I think the Zine method was a great way to share information with youth. Youth spend a lot of time on social media and gathering information through images they see. With the zine project we were taking images put out by the media and putting them together to create a positive overall image which I think is a great way to connect with today’s youth. This hands-on project helped to engage youth into processing what may have been a photo with a negative message into a positive message, rather than just watching a slide show. I feel this method was very beneficial for the youth involved as well as youth who view the zine.”
– Amanda (student)


3. How much time was needed to develop this resource?

  • March 2015 – The Service Area Collaborative and the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health (the Centre) hosted a youth consultation on mental health services in their service area. The goal was to include youth voice prior to submitting our local report to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
  • March 2015 – The Centre completed a report based on the feedback received from youth during this event.
  • October 2015 – The Service Area Collaborative hosted youth engagement primer for staff and shared the findings from the youth consultation. It was evident at this event that the final report was not in a youth friendly format.
  • December 2015 – CAMH and mindyourmind approached the Service Area Collaborative about having an event. The group decided to work with youth to make the findings from youth, more youth friendly.
  • February 2016 – CAMH, mindyourmind and the Service Area Collaborative hosted a mindyourmind zine design studio session.
  • March 2016 – The draft zine and event findings were shared with the Service Area Collaborative.
  • March 2016 – Some items from the original report where not reflected in the draft zine. The mindyourmind zine design studio session gave us the ongoing resources and skills to continue this work.  We engaged staff and youth that attended the event to create a few additional zine pages and the project was completed.
  • April 2016 – Printed copies of zine were sent to youth via their agency, a link was posted on the mindyourmind site and an article and link regarding project was shared in Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH) newsletters.

4.  What were the most important facilitators/what helped you in doing this work?

For The Regional Children’s Centre, the key was having youth attend as well as the funding received from CAMH and resources from mindyourmind.  Moving forward we plan to replicate this project.  

“The youth working together with mindyourmind and other adult allies during the zine project were fantastic. The opportunities to take information from a report that was created by adults and use a thoughtful, creative and artistic means to convey the same message that is attractive to youth was impactful.”
– Jeff, Adult Ally


5. What challenges did you encounter and what lessons did you learn?

We learned a lot form this event.  We did not have any real snags just lessons for next time. Here’s an overview of what we learned and what we want to share with others.

  • We can do this. Our community can come together and engage youth. We have committed partners, engaged youth, adults who want to support youth and all the necessary resources to host an event like this.  
  • Have a better plan. If you want to create a zine that represents an entire report, you need to ensure that someone is working on every part of that report. We had to go back and ask some of the youth to make us a few more pages. 
  • Play music. We had fun, great food, honorariums, lively conversation, however we forgot about the tunes.
  • Safety planning.  There were no issues, however we realized there are a few safety items we will put in place for next time.
  • Consent and privacy. We have policies related to privacy issues regarding anyone (including youth) taking photos of youth at any event we host. This includes events at the agency and offsite events.
  • Collect feedback.  We found it helpful to have a way to sort the feedback by youth and adult responses. There were variances on how each group perceived the event.
  • Share your story.  After this event we shared our story in our organization newsletter, presented our findings to our community partners, gave actual copies of the zines to the youth who created them as well as others and posted our zine online.

6.  What’s next?

We are staring our journey to co-creating with youth what our joint vison of youth engagement will look like at the service level. Stay tuned….


To learn more about this project and view a copy of the zine, visit the mindyourmind site.