Jeremy Dias explains the HepC Forum that took place last year from December 3-7, 2013:
“This project is not a Training Forum; this is about training Health Ambassadors to make real changes in our community.
With most Health Ambassadors exceeding expectations and running 3 or more initiatives, this training doesn’t just work, it makes a real difference in our youth communities.
In our second year of the project, we shook things up, learned from our mistakes and delivered one of the most comprehensive STBBIs youth trainings in our country. These Health Ambassadors know their stuff and their initiatives are successfully getting their peers to change the way they think about STBBIs and the way they act. It is about mitigating risk so that youth participating in the initiatives of Health Ambassadors are making better choices.
The project this year also changed significantly.
One of the most noticeable changes was introducing Mentors (previous Health Ambassadors) to help train new Health Ambassadors. This went amazing!
This mentorship model fostered youth in the same region to work together to make more significant and lasting changes. For example in Leduc, Health Ambassadors have created health display boards and are reaching out to after school youth groups, sports teams and parents (not originally in the design of the project, and yet completely part of its vision).
Another change we have noticed is that youth who faced challenges overcame those limitations by working with the Jer’s Vision office to creatively continue working on their projects.
For example, a Health Ambassador in Toronto was told by his school board that he could not run any projects upon his return from the training. So, he is working with Jer’s Vision to run a week-long training for 60 youth from Toronto schools that did not participate in the Training Forum, and showing them how they can make a difference. The Forum is paid through donations he raised.
This is what defines us as different and successful.”
A participant’s-eye-view of the Forum from Purple a 19 year old mentor:
“The first few days of the forum were stressful, but it was worth it. I had a lot of fun; being a mentor is something that I won’t forget. The Jer Bears [the group of participants I mentored] always made me laugh. I feel as if being a mentor had taught me a lot about myself.
If there is one thing overall that I’ve learned from DTSO, it is that I have the ability to do some amazing things. I can impact so many people without even trying. I am amazed that I can impact the lives of youth across this nation. Then again, I have seen Jeremy do some amazing things, so I guess I can say I have learned from one of the best.
This year, I will be doing a few things. For starters, I am going to do my best to work on some projects in BC that we were taught about. I hope to present some to friends, peers, and groups I attend. I also will be doing a lot of writing. One of my goals is to write another novel for National Novel Writing Month.
It’s going to be part of the first novel I write. Hopefully I can become a best seller or something. I also hope to start travelling within BC—or maybe even Canada—to tell people my story and to impact the lives of more folks. I think a lot of people may struggle with similar things that I struggle with—and what better way to connect with people than starting a conversation?
Jeremy and Thea having me back as a mentor has allowed me to realize what I want to do with my life: public speaking.
Yeah, I stutter and I am nervous when talking in front of a lot of people, but when I add humour, that all seems to go away. The participants have helped me realize that what I want to do with my life isn’t sitting down with someone talking about their feelings, but rather talking to a large group in hopes to inspire someone; to make them feel like they belong.
DTSO has allowed me to end 2013 with a bang. So thank you.
Thank you for everything, Jer Bears. I love you. You are all beautiful human beings.