Adapting youth engagement to new realities: the value of online spaces and peer support in times of change

Air Ouverte

The Aire ouverte youth council is a place where youth find a space that makes them feel safe and comfortable. They can express themselves freely about their personal difficulties and share their insight on how to change the way in which care is provided to youth. They are offered a concrete way to reclaim power and a platform to de-stigmatize health challenges among themselves and in society at large. In other words, the youth council is a time to socialize and create bonds of solidarity that stand the test of the obstacles they have experienced in their past. Additionally, the youth council of our Aire ouverte is co-facilitated by a peer worker. We believe that the fact that this role is held by a person who has lived experience brings an increased richness to the experience of youth and their engagement. 


Charles-Albert Morin
Charles-Albert a étudié en science politique à l’Université de Montréal. En ayant réussi à faire publier de nombreux textes dans les grands médias québécois, il contribue à sensibiliser à la maladie mentale et travaille activement à réduire la stigmatisation. Il a siégé sur le comité scientifique du Plan d'action en santé mentale 2020-2025 et a témoigné en commission parlementaire sur l'aide médicale à mourir. Il est actuellement pair-aidant et patient-partenaire au sein du CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal et au CHUM.

Elizabeth Guevara
Elizabeth Guevara est ergothérapeute et occupe des fonctions de coordination clinique dans le cadre de l'implantation d'Aire ouverte (réseau de services intégrés jeunesse) au CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal.

Sophie Maric
​​Sophie joined the youth council to be a part of something big and give opinion on how to better help this generation's youth and shape our society for the betterment of all youth. Aire Ouverte represents a desire to change the fate of so many youths that are working/are in health services, to help them be at ease with themselves and know that they have a support system there. The next generation will deal with the system of our predecessors. Values and views of our health system change with each passing day therefore it is best to understand what is flawed and find ways for improvement than to suffer.

Key takeaways

  • Focused on youth engagement with Aire Ouverte, embodying a peer-facilitator model
  • We need to build trust with youth partners to facilitate effective, authentic engagement
  • The pandemic impacted engagement: specifically exploring attendance in a virtual format
  • Everything was co-constructed with the youth
  • To recruit for youth council members virtually, they used a poster to circulate with partners then and expand from that process onforth
  • Name of organization that offers wonderful peer workers trainings -

Key Learning Objectives (defined by presenters)

  1. Understand and contribute to mapping what youth councils bring to youth addiction to a place of co-construction and consultation
  2. Learn more about the contribution that a peer facilitator/service user can make to the council
  3. Appreciate the versatility of youth council and how they can adapt to changing realities

Key Themes

  1. Peer support
  2. Lived experience
  3. De-stigmatization of mental health experience 

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