Small grant has big impact

Innovative youth mental health workshops build coping skills

Among the Anglican Foundation of Canada’s (AFC) 2021 Say Yes! to Kids grant recipients was St. James Anglican Church, Cambridge (Diocese of Huron). The church received a $2,100 grant for an innovative Mental Health and Resiliency Program.

The program came to fruition this past spring, when a skilled team of social workers, volunteer teachers from the congregation, and professional facilitators, offered four highly responsive workshops, at no cost, to vulnerable young people. These included: Movement Therapy, Therapeutic Art, Trauma Informed Yoga, and Mental Health Support and Skills.

“Our program created an opportunity for young people to come together in person, and experience social connection, learn and have fun,” says the Rev. Canon Linda Nixon, Incumbent. “The brainchild of Sandra Clarke, the workshops also gave them new skills and empowered them to cope with big feelings and challenges, in ways that supported their mental and physical health.”

Sandra Clarke the coordinator of the program, explained that during the first week of the program many children were nervous, but with steady support from volunteers, staff, and peers, most seemed happy and relaxed by the end of the first session. “We were excited to see the growth in each child as they attended each week. By the end of the program the majority of children left with smiles on their faces and some even had budding friendships that we hope continued after the program’s completion.”

Many of the children in the program were struggling with ADHD, anxiety, depression, family illness, divorce and understanding their gender and sexual identity. Sandra Clarke says, “Our team did their best to create a non-judgemental environment where all the children could benefit, feel included and supported in their choices.”

“After a long and strange period of social isolation due to COVID-19 it was heartwarming to see children come together and try new things,” says Sandi Sherk, Program Volunteer. “The program came at the right time. It was a joy to participate as a volunteer and see everyone grow.”

To read more good news stories about the SYTK movement visit our communications hub at To learn how your church can partner with AFC in our 2023 SYTK campaign and raise funds for a youth-focused project, please contact Michelle Hauser, AFC’s Development and Communications officer at [email protected].