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For detailed information on each day's sessions and events, please see below.

Pre-Conference Workshop

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Positive youth development is an approach to intentionally structuring programs and services for youth so they can develop the skills and competencies needed to help transition them into adulthood. This day-long workshop provides youth development workers, recreationists, and youth program managers with an opportunity to:
  • better understand the developmental needs of youth;
  • learn about adolescent brain development and how it can influence program planning;
  • hear about the 6 Cs, what they are and why youth need them;
  • become aware of the online Intentional Youth Development resource; and
  • benefit from becoming part of a network of those who support those aged 13 – 19 years.
Come prepared to listen, discuss, share and learn about fresh ideas in this interactive training event. Delegates coming just for the day will return to their agency, school or department armed with tools, resources and research designed to help their services be responsive and supportive with and for youth. Delegates staying for the MBA have the additional opportunity to meet more colleagues and enjoy even more experiential learnings over the following two days of sessions.

Instructor: Jason Cranny, Community Service Officer, Owen Sound Police Department

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Youth Engagement: From a Youth Perspective
At age 13, Lazar Paroski identified a problem with the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) scores for children grades 1-6 in his community; scores were surprisingly low. Lazar is a math whiz, but he knows that math doesn’t come as easy for some kids. He wanted to help his fellow students improve their scores and have some fun doing it so he applied for a grant to create an outdoor Math Wall in Morrison Park, Kitchener. In this keynote, Lazar will share how he engaged more than 450 children, his tips for engaging youth and what worked and didn’t work with this project. At the age of 15 Lazar is an incredibly fun and passionate speaker who is looking forward to sharing his experience with you!
Lazar Paroski, Youth, Advocate for Change

10:50 AM - 11:40 AM Concurrent Sessions 1

There is an increasing body of evidence that suggests an effective way to improve mental health is by spending more time outdoors.  This session will explore the benefits of “green exercise,  physical exercise undertaken in natural environments, as a youth intervention for better psychological health. Learn how to implement green exercise programming that is co-led by youth, and the role that community partners, like Conservation Authorities, municipal parks and recreation, and groups such as Hike Ontario and the Royal Botanical Gardens, can contribute to the program’s success.  
Selina Buesink, Psychotherapist/Team Lead, Lynwood Charlton Centre; Ethan Murray-Leung, Youth

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The use of e-cigarettes is growing in Ontario among youth and so are the many concerns associated with it’s popularity. This session will explore the current explosion of youth vaping in Ontario from social, cultural and industry-fueled lenses. A brief overview of the technology of e-cigarettes will be provided along with a hands-on opportunity to explore different products used by youth. You will leave this session understanding the factors behind this challenging behaviour, its health and legal implications, and how to best prevent and support youth in these changing, vaping times. You will also leave the session with a list of resources available to support young people and adult influencers to make healthy decisions.
Jeff Moco, Youth Engagement Coordinator, Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit; Corina Artuso, Youth Engagement Coordinator, Algoma Public Health; Wendy Legros, Health Promoter, Porcupine Health Unit

Get ready for the real world! Learn from the youth members of the Burlington Student Theatre as they express – through Improv – experiences they encounter on a daily basis. Listen to self-identified stories and bring topics on which you would like to hear their insight. The Burlington Student Theatre focuses on the wellness and development of young people, fostering empathy, courage and critical thinking within a safe and nurturing environment. You will also get the opportunity to practice the tools and transferrable skills youth require to feel good about themselves and act with confidence in their everyday lives.
Burlington Student Theatre Members, Rainer Noack, Founder and Program Director, Burlington Student Theatre and Coordinator for the Youth and Culture Team; Elaine Delsnyder, City of Burlington

1:35 PM - 2:25 PM Concurrent Sessions 2

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As a service provider, you have a role to play in helping immigrant youth successfully integrate and become leaders in their communities. Programs that include skill building activities, hands on projects and continuous self-assessment build leaders who have a strong ethic of service to others and are active civic participants. In this session, discover practical and proven tools and techniques through strategic examples that help newcomer youth feel more engaged in their new homes and leave you feeling empowered as a change agent for positive growth.
Corina Carvallo, Senior Manager, Program and Services; Aroop Rayu, Youth Employment Worker; Sweet Genesis Ali, Youth, Skills for Change

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Mental Health is a topic of growing concern with today’s youth. This interactive session will enhance your approach to engage with the many partners involved that can help youth cope with anxiety, stress and other mental health disorders.  Learn how to engage youth to work together and build skills to take action toward mental health both for themselves and those whose lives they touch.  
Jodi Longland, Programs Coordinator, Town of Innisfil

2:55 PM - 3:45 PM Concurrent Sessions 3

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The Canadian Intramural and Recreation Association (CIRA Ontario) is pleased to introduce you to its ‘Favourites’! Learn the CIRA Ontario’s favourite games and activities you can use with youth to help them get to know one another, stay actively engaged, get them moving in the middle of a long meeting, open their minds to new ideas, develop their leadership skills, and leave them laughing, having fun, making friends and wanting more!
Andy Raithby, Vice President, Canadian Intramural Recreation Association (CIRA) Ontario

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In this session you will hear from both staff and participant perspectives about how community collaboration and partnership, through their diverse strengths and resources, can enhance a program and create better outcomes. Learn how engaging partners from the beginning of program development is critical to a program’s success and hear from program participants and how they perceive the benefits of those connections. While this session is based on learnings from a youth employment program, those learnings are transferable to any program in which youth are involved.
Nancy Nguyen and Erica Stewart, Employment 411 Program Participants; Samantha St. Aubin, Recreation Coordinator, City of Hamilton; Kristin McGaw, Youth and Education Supervisor, Boys & Girls Clubs of Hamilton

3:55 PM - 4:45 PM Concurrent Sessions 4

The verdict is in: Youth want to have input in the decisions that affect them.  Join the Town of Milton and learn about their new municipal Youth Strategy. Discover practices in how to hear diverse youth voices and reflect them in program development and as a tool for advocating for increased investment in youth. This session will cover what was learned about gathering youth feedback, crunching the data with an objective and critical eye, using the data in a meaningful way, and maintaining relationships with youth participants throughout and after the process. Leave with key learnings from the youth feedback data and with a roadmap for collecting and leveraging youth voice and involving youth in future decision-making.
Michelle Dittmer, Community Development Advisor, Town of Milton

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Since 2005, Play Works has recognized more than 46  Ontario communities that have met the requirements to be a Youth Friendly Community. This means that more than 40% of Ontario’s youth, ages 13 to 19, live in a Youth Friendly Community! These communities have worked hard to establish, maintain and enhance play opportunities for their youth. If you are a currently recognized Youth Friendly Community or have a goal to see your community recognized, come to this session and learn about best practices, ask questions about the 2020 application process, and learn from those who have both applied for and been on the review side of the application process.
Moderator: Marion Price, Parks and Recreation Ontario
Panelists: Jesse Williamson, City of Hamilton; Diane Wiber, Town of Bracebridge; Cathy Oliveira, Town of Whitby

8:30 AM - 9:00 AM Registration & Information Desk Open
9:00 AM - 9:30 AM Welcome & Morning Activity
9:30 AM - 10:20 AM Keynote Address
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Canada’s Truth & Reconciliation Report, and the subsequent Call to Action, provides insight as to what is needed to honour the truth and reconcile the future. Youth development workers have a role to play in supporting the learnings from these documents, as well as using this information to inform work with other populations who may have come from similar backgrounds of oppression or trauma. The plenary session will highlight components of Truth and Reconciliation, speak to the call for action which communities can be addressing, and provide links between what staff who work with Indigenous youth can  undertake to create links to a better and brighter future for the next generation.

Duke Peltier, Ogimaa, Wiikwemikoong Unceded Territory; Lawrence Enosse, Program Manager, Waasa Naabin Youth Centre


10:20 AM - 10:50 AM Activity and Refreshment Break

10:50 AM - 11:40 AM Concurrent Sessions 5

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Youth Advisory Councils are a key way for the youth voice to be heard by community decision makers. Starting a Council, and keeping it going, takes the right person in the right place at the right time with the right group of youth. What happens when all of those ‘rights’ change either quickly or over time? Hear the learnings from a community that has gone through that process and that is positioning the youth voice to rise again in a way that is designed to have better results for the youth, the decision makers and the community as a whole.
Jesse Williamson, Project Manager, Strategic Youth Initiatives, City of Hamilton

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Planet Youth Lanark County (PYLC) is not just a program,  it’s a new approach to measurably improve the quality of life in a community. Pioneered in Iceland over 20 years ago, this approach is now used in over 110 communities across 27 countries worldwide. Some of the successful steps taken in Iceland and other countries include: removing barriers to positive activities and pursuits for youth; bringing awareness to the public about the benefits of increased family time; and improving lines of communication between schools, parents, community organizations and youth. PYLC partners with community leaders and policy makers to enhance quality of life of youth by addressing substance use. In this session, you will hear about the work PYLC has done to build community capacity, its challenges and successes, its plans to conduct first surveys in early 2020, and how you can use partnership models like this to address issues youth face in your community
Planet Youth Lanark County Steering Committee Member

1:00 PM - 1:50 PM Concurrent Sessions 6

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Running a successful and well-attended program for newcomer youth does not just happen. It takes intentional planning, solid partnerships, and program outreach strategies to help find and engage youth in your programs. The session will cover best ways to mobilize staff, build structure within offsite program activities, and turn purposeful outreach strategies into an effective and meaningful mobile program that newcomer youth find valuable and exciting.
Jovie Galit, Coordinator, Immigrant and Refugee Services, West Neighbourhood House; Kitt Azores, Newcomer Youth Program Team Lead, West Neighbourhood House 

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HYP is a community grounded in the belief that all people have important stories to tell. They are a group of  people from different backgrounds who have come together to understand the importance of their own stories and those of others, so all can pursue a chosen path and work to make the places we call home more just and equitable. Relationships begin at HYP based on a shared love of creative expression through the written and spoken word. HYP offers in-school Artist Residencies, writing workshops in poetry (Check the Method) and hip-hop/rap (Emcee Wreckshop), the longest-running youth open mic and poetry slam in Hamilton (HYP Slam), and HYP's newest program, Black Poet Residency: an intensive and dynamic writing and performance series that recognizes the importance of providing a positive and inclusive platform where black voices  and experiences are explored, expressed, and supported.
Hamilton Youth Poets

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This action-packed and experiential plenary session will put you in the driver’s seat of impact sharing and have your mind going 100 miles per hour! Learn who the youth are in your community who you want to connect with, how to find them, and how to build and establish connections with different groups of youth. Discover how to nurture relationships with youth and learn techniques to maintain the interest and enthusiasm of the youth with whom you work. This session will include concrete ‘how-to’s on recruitment and retention, with the best ideas coming from you! 
Members of the Planning Committee: Panelists: MBA Delegates!

3:15 PM - 4:05 PM Concurrent Sessions 7
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For many youth, getting 40 hours of community service isn’t enough and they continue to seek out further volunteer opportunities that help them build skills for their future. Learn how the Ontario Science Centre Camp builds meaningful, balanced relationships with over 120 youth volunteers each summer through a structured program of goal-setting, self-reflection, frequent evaluations from paid counsellors, and ongoing training. This session will include sample tools and group discussion to lead participants in examining their organization’s learning goals for youth volunteers, planning supports to help youth achieve those goals, and thinking about how to measure the youths’ successes. It will also include active examples of how attention is paid to the ‘soft skills’ that volunteers (and in turn, their campers) learn throughout their time at camp. Learn how to implement the Science Centre’s approach with volunteers where, "at camp, we play with a purpose!"
Emma Meadley Dunphy, Recreational Program Leader, Ontario Science Centre

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Training youth staff is one of the most fundamental components of preparing your staff team; but it can often be challenging to wade through the various methods or come up with new ways of running the training. This session will highlight creative, innovative and cost-effective (or free!) methods you can adopt to enhance your staff training with technology. You'll also learn how popular smartphone applications can double as learning tools. A smart phone, tablet or laptop will be needed throughout the session for hands on learning, so please bring yours to use or share.
Marek Holke, Senior Manager, Training Systems, Making Waves Swim School: Colleen Oag, Recreation Programmer, Aquatics, City of Mississauga