Youth in search of help have a new place to turn, thanks to a website initiative supported by Peace Wapiti Academy (PWA) and created by PWA Youth Advocate Mhairi Elliot.
The Grande Prairie Youth Help website, accessible at www.gpyouth.ca, offers free help and explanations of services to assist young people who are facing challenges, including self-help options for obtaining food and clothing, safe places to stay, counseling services, fighting addictions, academic help, sexual health resources, and reporting a crime anonymously. Links to external organizations offer assistance for dealing with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, illness, sexuality and gender acceptance, and life-changing events. The site also provides links to social groups, bullying help, and volunteering opportunities.
The site came about when Mhairi Elliot, PWA Youth Advocate, became involved with local community social development organizations and realized that a central location for accessing services could be beneficial to PWA students, as well as youth living in Grande Prairie and the surrounding communities. After consulting and brainstorming with Assistant Principal Kate Thon, Ms. Elliot shared her idea with PWA Principal Wanda Gerard who saw great value in the project and offered support from the school to cover the costs of hosting the website.
Since launching the site, Ms. Elliot has worked with PWSD Central Office to create a school-based Youth Advocate webpage on the PWA website, as well as a dedicated page on the internal PWA portal, offering school-specific assistance to PWA students, along with a link to the Grande Prairie Youth Help website.
"Ms. Elliot, who holds a Bachelor of Psychology degree from the University of Otago, was appointed to the new PWA Youth Advocate role which was introduced in September," says Principal Wanda Gerard. "The work she has done on the Grande Prairie Youth Help website, along with the resources offered to PWA students through our school website, are empowering."
Ms. Elliot says she is simply happy to bring together existing help for youth in the website's one-stop format.
"The website offers young people a secure place to find help for themselves or friends who may be struggling," says Ms. Elliot. "When students become aware that assistance is available at school and in their communities, they will hopefully feel empowered to reach out and make changes."
Ms. Elliot designed a flyer to advertise the website, which teachers distributed to PWA students during iPlan sessions on Monday. "Thanks to encouragement from our teachers, the site received more than 500 views and many students provided very constructive feedback and further direction," added Ms. Elliot. She also invites those with information on additional youth resources to submit them via the website's 'Contact Us' section.
Photo Caption: The Grande Prairie Youth Help website, www.gpyouth.ca, supported by Peace Wapiti Academy and created by PWA Youth Advocate Mhairi Elliot, offers free help and explanations of services to assist young people who are facing challenges.