We invite you to join The New Mentality’s 2SLGBTQIA+ Leadership Program Rainbow Connections, in a workshop on how to build braver spaces for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth. This workshop will be led by queer youth from across Ontario who are sharing their experiences and insights to encourage others to be inclusive allies and to see the beauty and complexities of our identities. This workshop welcomes each of you to be brave. Participants will take away actionable strategies and ideas for how to build brave spaces for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth in your organizations and in your clinical practices.
Rachel Sparling (They/Them): Rachel Sparling (They/Them) is the founder and coordinator of Rainbow Connections, a 2SLGBTQIA+ youth mental health leadership program. Having worked and volunteered in facilitation for 7 years, they have a passion for genuine youth engagement and using storytelling as a way to create connection and change. With a bachelor’s degree in Community Development and Environmental Studies from Acadia University, and a Master’s in Social Justice and Community Engagement, Rachel centres community, justice, and connection in all that they do. They are a firm believer that the first step in creating change is by daring to do our work differently and actively creating the communities we dream of being part of.
Wren Kauenhofen (they/them): Wren is a passionate mental health and 2SLBGTQIA+ advocate. They have been involved in youth mental health advocacy for 4 years and 2SLGBTQIA+ advocacy for 2 years. Being involved in the Wellkin Youth Engagement Advisory and Rainbow Connections program under The New Mentality, they have become a strong voice in the conversations around mental health, queerness, and disability. First joining the Rainbow Connections program in its first year as a participant and then returning for the second year as a youth apprentice, they have had the opportunity to grow and learn as well as teach and become an amateur queer historian along the way. They are currently studying Health Sciences and Psychology at Western University where they work as the vice president of advocacy for their students’ association and take part in various opportunities such as presenting a paper at an undergraduate panel on sexuality and gender as well as having their work published in an undergraduate research journal of the same topic. Their goal is to continue creating safe, connected, and supportive communities for people at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities and experiences, as well as advocate for the needs of their communities wherever possible.
Murphy-Issac Boyse (They/He): Murphy-Issac (they/he) is a 23 year old transmasculine nonbinary individual from Elgin County. They have 10 years of experience in queer youth advocacy ranging from local events to international policy writing. Murphy-Issac is proudest of their work as a grassroots queer youth group facilitator for youth ages 12-19, and finds joy in seeing queer life not only surviving, but thriving.
Crystal Ward (She/They): I’m 17 and currently located in a small town near Stratford. I have been a part of The New Mentality since November 2020 with my TNM group – New Horizons. But I’ve also been actively a part of my school board’s mental health initiatives, As well as with my school’s GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance)! My intentions with the work I do is to drive change within the mental health system, which ranges from 2SLGBTQ+ work as a queer youth to sharing my experiences within the system to help prevent tough experiences for others in the future. I believe that every voice matters and deserves to be heard, to create a more accepting and safe environment for all within the mental health system!