Free summer workshops part of youth mental health initiative

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Bonnie James

MRC PONTIAC – The Ministry of Culture and Communications has partnered with the municipalities of Fort‑Coulonge and Mansfield to offer free summer workshops for youth aged 12 – 18 years to support mental health through mentorship opportunities.

The program was spearheaded by Justin Bertrand, École secondaire sieur-de-Coulonge educational counsellor. In a presentation to the MRC Pontiac’s Council of Mayors, Bertrand said current data on the psychology of adolescents demonstrates a need for mentorship. He defined a mentor as “an adult they [youth] can trust, open up to and learn from, who can listen to them without judgement or stereotypes, or just [suggest] what to do or help with problems.”

Bertrand explained the basic concept is to offer youth fun activities related to cultural exchange and mentorship. “The workshops are a way for youth to connect with culture, arts, certain sports, and discover new interests and passions outside of Facebook and video games,” he said. When asked what led him to take on the project, Bertrand responded: “I’ll take any excuse to work on teen mental health that I can.”

Aiming to promote expression, workshop topics include fine arts, theatre, juggling, and balloon making. Most workshops are held in Fort-Coulonge and instruction is delivered predominantly in French. However, all instructors are bilingual and can offer support in English. The workshops started in June and will continue until the end of August.

For more information or to register, please contact Fort-Coulonge or Mansfield’s municipal offices.