All posts by Dominika Zapolnik

Picture of Tennis coach Michele May discusses a program, administered through New Path Youth and Family Services, that gives coaches training to better recognize and support young players facing mental health challenges. - Chris Simon/Metroland

How Simcoe County coaches are starting to recognize youth mental health issues

It’s about giving adults the tools to produce an “a-ha” moment with youth. New Path Youth and Family Services received a three-year, $383,500 grant for youth engagement initiatives from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in 2015. Since then, the money has been used to improve the skill set of New Path staff, volunteers and community coaches, to help them better recognize and support children and youth facing mental health challenges. Michele May, a recently retired Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board teacher, now helps facilitate a coach training program for New Path. “I wish I had this training many years ago,” May, who also currently coaches tennis, said at a program recognition event in Barrie recently. “The training is sort of an ‘a-ha’ moment for coaches.” Read more from the Barrie Advance story:
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Brechin Public School Donation received a donation

Working Together To Support Children’s Mental Health

New Path Youth and Family Services (New Path) is paying it forward to help support child and youth mental health services at Brechin Public School. Funds, which were received by New Path from the Leadership/Student Council at Twin Lakes Secondary School (Twin Lakes), were raised by students registered in the peer tutoring course through their “Fun Day” activities during Children’s Mental Health Week (CMHW). This year Brechin Public School (BPS), a Twin Lakes feeder school, has been nominated as the recipient of the $500 donation.
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New Mentality Youth Group with adult allies Debbie Shea and Laura Andrews

Never Lose Your Flame Receives Dare To Dream Grant

Barrie, January 30, 2017 – The New Mentality Group, Never Lose Your Flame, which works collaboratively with New Path Youth and Family Services (New Path), has received a Dare to Dream (D2D) grant from the Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health (the Centre). The grant will enable the group to put into action plans to hold 4 separate events to raise awareness of and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health among youth within the Simcoe County community. The planned events include an open mic night with presenters, performances and karaoke, an information night at the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library, a Strike Out Stigma free bowling event at Underground Bowl in Bradford and a colour run (or walk) which is a paint race that celebrates health and wellness. The youth-led group, which has been working in collaboration with New Path Care and Treatment Workers and Adult Allies, Debbie Shea and Laura Andrews, has been thinking about planning these events since the summer and are thrilled that they will now officially be able to implement them. “New Path Youth and Family Services has been a leader in youth engagement within our community and the New Mentality group has been a great opportunity to allow youth to develop and create community awareness events for Children’s Mental Health Week,” says Shea. “This grant allows us to creatively educate the community about children’s mental health and let other youth see that there is a support network for those experiencing struggles. They don’t have to do it alone.”  In addition to hosting these events, youth will be responsible for remaining in contact with D2D, creating timelines and budgets and providing updates on the group’s progress. “We have been so fortunate this year to have so many passionate youth involved with Never Lose Your Flame. The events and processes are largely driven by them (the youth) and we hope to see lots of community members out to support these initiatives during Children’s Mental Health week in May,” says Shea. In Simcoe County it is estimated that over 20,000 children and youth presently need help with mental health concerns.  Of these, only one in six seek out and receive the specialized treatment services they require.   Many who experience mental health struggles often do so alone in fear of judgement and discrimination. Youth in particular are reluctant to seek help due to their struggles being minimized and fear of ridicule from their peers.  Ending the stigma related to mental health will allow a community of support and encouragement, reducing the number of young people continuing to suffer alone. The Never Lose Your Flame, New Mentality group meets every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Barrie Common Roof, 165 Ferris Lane. Youth participants get high-school volunteer hours and gain experience in designing and implementing community events. Snacks are also provided. If you are or know of a youth who would like to get involved, please come out. For more information about The New Mentality you can check out the website or contact Debbie Shea, or Laura Andrews, To learn more about New Path Youth and Family Services, to donate, or get involved please visit, follow us on social media Facebook: New Path Youth & Family Services Twitter: @NewPathYFS or sign up for the quarterly TrailSigns Newsletter About New Path Youth and Family Services of Simcoe County New Path Youth and Family Services of Simcoe County is a government supported, registered not for profit charitable organization. We are an accredited children’s mental health agency providing a range of innovative and accessible services for children, youth and their families throughout Simcoe County. We are the Lead Agency in Simcoe County for Moving on Mental Health (MOMH) committed to leading system change in the County. As Lead Agency, New Path seeks to enhance the experience and outcomes of children, youth and their families seeking assistance with mental health and wellness.
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New Path Youth and Family Services staff and yoga instructor, Maia Knauer holding a yoga pose.

Karma Yoga Raising Funds for New Path Youth and Family Services

Last November marked the beginning of Karma Yoga classes at the BLiSS Ann Green Yoga studio in support of New Path Youth and Family Services (New Path). Every Sunday evening since then a small group of yogis (both beginner and advanced) spend an hour practicing yoga and cultivating good karma in the dimly lit Lake Room, overlooking Kempenfelt Bay. The idea was sparked by Maia Knauer, who is an Adolescent Outreach Worker at the New Path Barrie location as well as a Yoga Instructor at the BLiSS yoga studio. With a minimum $5 donation, participants not only reap the rewards of a practice that has been proven to reduce physical pain, lower stress, relieve hypertension and improve sleep. Their donation also goes directly back to helping New Path ensure access to mental health care for children, youth and their families. “It’s a really great fit because I believe an important part of yoga practice is about service to others; being able to give back is all about taking care of each other and feeling connected. It feels good to ‘pay it forward’ and know that your actions can have a positive influence on another being,” says Knauer. “The Karma Yoga classes are a perfect way to blend positive service to others with the financial need that many children’s mental health agencies, like ours, have.” Knauer has been practicing yoga since she was quite young, and on and off throughout her young adult life. She completed the 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher training with Bliss Ann Green Yoga from 2015 to 2016 which deepened her practice and encouraged her to live a life full of compassion for herself, and for other beings. “The compassion and understanding that I continue to develop towards myself through yoga and mindfulness practices has increased my capacity for empathy towards the youth I serve. This also helps me connect with my colleagues and our community partners in a present, authentic way,” Knauer says. “I hope that I model for others a sense of peace and acceptance, regardless of the circumstance. If this resiliency rubs off on the people I come in contact with every day, I believe that I have done a good job!” Karma yoga classes take place every Sunday from 5:30 – 6:30 at the BLiSS Ann Green Yoga Studio on 119 Dunlop Street East in Barrie. Join Maia and other yogis and pay it forward through your attendance. Namaste!  
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