#OERS18 - Promoting Positive Mental Health and Cultural Connectedness Through Strengths-Based Mentoring with Indigenous Youth

By: Nicole Bullock
Tuesday, March 6, 2018

L-R: Dr. Claire Crooks, Paul McKenzie, and Mike Cywink at #OERS18

L-R: Dr. Claire Crooks, Paul McKenzie, and Mike Cywink at #OERS18

It takes a team to make a difference. On Friday, March 2, Dr. Claire Crooks (Director, Centre for School Mental Health), Mike Cywink (Student Mentor/Program Liaison, The Fourth R: Uniting Our Nations) and Paul McKenzie (Superintendent, Thames Valley District School Board) presented at the 2018 Ontario Education Research Symposium in Toronto. The trio led workshop participants through the development and evaluation of the Uniting Our Nations peer mentoring program for Indigenous youth – a mentoring program developed in partnership between the Fourth R and Thames Valley District School Board over the past decade.

During the workshop, Dr. Crooks discussed program development, research methodology and findings. Cywink presented an overview of the mentoring program followed by experiential activity from the program. Finally, McKenzie described how the work emerging from the school-university partnership has supported the board’s strategic direction.

The mentoring program takes place during weekly lunch meetings and applies strength-based, culturally relevant approaches to mentoring secondary school students. Longitudinal research outcomes associated with two years of participation in the program include improved positive well-being, increased cultural connectedness, and increased credit accumulation.

The Symposium included a series of speakers, keynotes, workshops and roundtable discussions to address advancing equity and achievement in Ontario. By recognizing that some students and educators face unique experiences of discrimination, the symposium set out to examine the issues of systemic bias, practices and process that often result in differential treatment of racialized and marginalized children and youth.

Learn more about the Fourth R's Uniting Our Nations peer mentoring program, here.

Learn more about the Ontario Education Research Symposium, here.