Written by: Valentina Sarmiento, Youth Ambassador, The Grove-Fergus
Before becoming involved with The Grove Wellington Guelph, my idea of a wellness centre was very different. I used to think a wellness centre was like a community centre that mainly offers recreational services. Although community centres offer a lot to youth, they offer a very different function than The Grove Wellington Guelph. The Grove covers EVERY aspect of youth wellness, diligently focusing on eight specific aspects; emotional, physical, occupational, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental and financial.
Our community is experiencing a mental health crisis, and in order to address these issues, people tend to first look to a medical solution. But The Grove Wellington Guelph takes a different approach. Focusing on an integrated mental health model which prioritizes the unique experience of youth, developing and modelling their sites and programming with youth and their needs in mind. The Grove sites focus every detail of care on the needs of youth, from the programming offered to the physical space and the training of the employees and care providers.
The Grove prioritizes building rapport and genuine therapeutic relationships that feel organic on both sides; it doesn’t look like someone sitting in an office is being forced to chat about how they are feeling. It is playing a game of ping pong or Uno and talking about things going on in your life without any pressure of feeling like you need to disclose anything to anyone. Youth are made to feel comfortable and are able to build trust with the team because they decide how and when they want to lead the conversation and embark on their own journey of mental health and wellness.
As soon as I saw The Grove’s website, I knew this place instantly, was something special, and I wanted to be a part of it. I loved the idea that going through one door meant going through multiple different doors, as all the sites are connected. The sites are a space for all youth, including myself. I became a Youth Ambassador with The Grove because of all the wonderful things they offer to youth. I know a younger version of myself would have loved to be able to engage with a space like this. This isn’t an ordinary space; it is a space that has been carefully and thoughtfully crafted with the needs of youth in mind.
Being a Youth Ambassador with The Grove has been an incredible learning experience for me, and it has taught me how to understand the unique and individual needs of youth and the importance of meeting them at whatever stage they are in of their own wellness journey. The Grove has given me the confidence to approach different skills like presenting, building rapport, and expanding my capacity for patience. My favourite part about my role with The Grove Wellington Guelph is creating meaningful connections with other youth and being open and honest with them. I know from my own experience this can help youth to not feel shame or judgment for their deeply personal life experiences.
My experience at The Grove has highlighted the importance of listening over talking and how taking the time to listen can completely alter any conversation in an open and positive way. Working with The Grove has been a learning process that has not only improved my work experience but also provided me with meaningful skills and insight that informed my personal life and allowed me to develop a deep appreciation for listening.
If you are a youth between the ages of 18 and 26 and want to make a difference in the lives of youth, create meaningful connections and learn a lot about yourself in the process, consider applying to become a Youth Ambassador, like me.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your resume to apply for a Youth Ambassador position.