Promoting Youth Mental Health and Fostering Resilience during COVID-19
By Carissa Konesky, Founder of I Am Tenacious and #RisingYouth Alumni
My name is Carissa Konesky, and I am a 25-year-old woman from Burnaby, British Columbia. I recently received a #RisingYouth grant, where I was able to implement the I Am Tenacious Workbook program!
My two biggest passions are working with youth and mental health. When the pandemic hit, I was worried about the impact that it would have on the mental health of youth. I applied for several youth microgrants to be able to put together some resources for youth during the pandemic. Once I received the funding, I reached out to an organization that I had worked with previously, called ShEvalesco. They are an amazing youth organization that provides programming around topics such as assertiveness, setting boundaries and resilience. Together, we put together four-week workshops for young women aged 12 to 18. The workshops were hugely successful, and we had youth sign up from across Canada. Using the funding that we were given, all youth who completed the program received a workbook, certificate of completion, and an I Am Tenacious crest.
I was so excited about the success of our I Am Tenacious program. I wanted to find a way to make the impact of the program go even further. As part of the original I Am Tenacious program, we had handed out workbooks to go with the workshops. The workbooks were very well-received, and I realized that they would be a great tool for getting the program out to more youth. This is when I decided to apply for a #RisingYouth grant and create an I Am Tenacious Workbook series! With the funding that we received from the grant, we were able to provide workbooks to many youth. We decided to focus this project within Surrey, which is a city outside of Vancouver with a large youth population. We connected with many youth organizations within Surrey. With the workbooks we provided them with, they were able to host their own I Am Tenacious workshops for the youth that they serve.
The I Am Tenacious program is still going strong! After handing out the workbooks, we were able to host two more workshop series, which we called I Am Enough and I Can. Some very exciting news is that we were able to take the success of the program and ask for funding from a community partner. We have now been funded to continue running the program for the next year! None of this would have been possible without the support of the #RisingYouth grant.
Putting together a project can be overwhelming — especially during a pandemic! One thing that I have found, though, is that people want to be involved more than ever! I contacted many organizations to hand out my workbooks and heard back from many very quickly. This virtual world that we are living in also has so many different opportunities. I was able to connect with youth all over Canada with the I Am Tenacious program by holding it virtually!
Here are my top four tips for starting your own initiative with a #RisingYouth grant:
1) Find something that you are passionate about! Your project will be so much more fun when it is something that you really care about.
2) Do not be afraid to reach out for help! I contacted many organizations, and many wanted to be involved with the I Am Tenacious Workbook program! Reach out to see who might be able to help or ask your friends and contacts if they know anybody who would be interested!
3) Think out of the box. What are the best ways that you can make the difference that you want to see? Is it by connecting with others virtually? Is it by providing much-needed items to others? Or is it something else?
4) Enjoy the process! How cool is it that you were able to receive funding to make a difference! Make sure that you take time to enjoy the experience and document it with photos and notes.
So far, the I Am Tenacious program has reached 350 youth from across Canada. I highly recommend applying for a #RisingYouth grant to start your own project and make the difference that you want to see! You have the ability to make a huge difference!
I would love to get in touch! Feel free to reach out for any tips on planning your own project by messaging me on LinkedIn.