BC Health Coalition Youth Engagement Strategy(Current)

Start Date: 2008
Curriculum Links: Social Studies 8 – 11, Planning 10, Civic Studies 11
Project Partners: BC Health Coalition
Project Funders: BC Health Coalition, Hospital Employees’ Union

The Youth Engagement Strategy engages young people on the topic of health care in communities across BC.
 There are many questions about what’s best for Canada’s health care system, yet there is little youth-accessible information and opportunities for youth-based dialogue on this issue. The Youth Engagement Strategy creates these opportunities through workshops, trainings and outreach activities that provide a space for much-needed youth-to-youth education on systems of health care. We also facilitate Train the Trainer workshops for teachers to be able to facilitate the Health Care workshop on their own – a great option for Pro-D Days! Learn about our workshop (Health Care: The Price Is Right?) in the Workshops section of the website and to find out more about the other activities of this project, contact us.

Income Inequality Project(Current)

Start Date: 2017
Curriculum Links: Social Studies 10-11, Social Justice 12, Law 12, Human Geography 12
Project Funders: The Bogue Foundation

The Income Inequality project seeks to engage and empower youth to better understand and work against poverty in Vancouver. This project supports youth in facilitating dialogues on poverty, income inequality and wealth distribution with their peers and becoming actively involved in community advocacy work.

As part of this project, youth will lead Poverty & Income Inequality workshops to young people across BC.  The Poverty & Income Inequality workshop gives youth the tools to learn and think critically about unequal distribution of wealth and resources, especially in a local/national context. It supports youth to look at some concrete ways to work toward more equitable distribution.

Bandwidth 4 Belonging

Date: 2007
Project Partners: The PLAN Institute, The Belonging Initiative, TakingITGlobal, Canadian Association for Independent Living Centres (CAILC)

Bandwidth 4 Belonging provided Check Your Head with the opportunity to work with TakingITGlobal as well as a collaboration of eleven national disability organizations to implement a schedule of opportunities for young people with disabilities to design solutions to the critical social issue of isolation and loneliness. The project began by drawing on youth-driven participatory action learning processes that, through mapping, workshops, storytelling and other techniques, worked with youth with a broad range of abilities and disabilities to articulate a clearer picture of what belonging meant to them. Using this information, the project then worked with youth to build an online presence that provided a foundation for further involvement of young people with disabilities. Check Your Head was predominantly involved in facilitating the dialogues early in the project to engage a diverse group of youth on the issues of belonging, social isolation and connections.

Building Skills for a Greener Future

Start Date: 2015
Curriculum Links: Home Economics 8-10, Science 8-10, Social Studies 11, Social Justice 12
Project Funders: Vancouver Foundation Greenest City Grants 

Building Tools for a Greener Future engages Vancouver’s diverse youth community who has demonstrated an interest in the sustainable future of their city. Both the youth vital signs report and feedback from our successful pilot of a youth-only skills building events in 2014, have encouraged Check Your Head to create spaces for youth to learn skills, connect, and share knowledge to contribute to the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020  Action Plan goals: “zero waste” and “local food”. Each event involves dialogue activities led by skilled youth peer educators. These events will be youth-only and accessible spaces where Vancouver youth can develop hands-on skills,  grow as environmental leaders and connect with local organizations that provide resources to support living greener lives.  

Climate Justice Project

Start Date: 2012
Curriculum Links: Science 8-11, Social Studies 11, Social Justice 12, Law 12
Project Partners: Canadian Council for Policy Alternatives
Project Funders: Vancity

Supported by recent research and publications from the Canadian Council for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), Check Your Head has been engaging young people in schools and community centres to take more equitable and impactful action to protect the planet. First, using alternative transportation as a lens to understand climate justice, young people will participate in a peer-led workshop exploring the unequal impacts and experiences of climate change locally and globally. With this important equity context in mind, participants will then generate environmental actions, commit to changing their behaviours, initiate individual and community projects, connect their actions to those taken by other youth, and ultimately change the planet!

Corporate U

Date: 2000
Project Partners: Headlines Theatre

Working together with Headlines Theatre, Check Your Head presented Corporate U, a theatre event that explored the influence of corporations on individual attitudes, relationships, economies, and the environment. The show was developed by 20 activists and presented directly to over 900 people over the course of 11 theater events with countless others reached through television (one show was broadcast on local television) and the Internet. The play was designed to use forum theater and “joking” tools, allowing the audience to be active interveners in the situations described in the play. The experimental live web cast of the play ultimately yielded an audience intervention from Croatia – making the big issues of globalization presented in the play very real for all involved! Audiences got involved in the play and, through the successful use of forum theatre, we stimulated many conversations and challenged diverse views of globalization and corporate control.

Dig In!

Date: 2008
Project Partners: Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), National Farmers’ Union Youth

Food security has become a key concept in the global movement resisting the industrialization of agriculture and growing inequities in the distribution of, and access to, food globally. To build a workshop around this concept, Check Your Head worked with the National Farmers’ Union Youth and the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network to launch the Dig In! project. Working collaboratively, the organizations shared skills and knowledge to build outreach capacity, knowledge of food and agriculture related issues and facilitation and communication skills. The goal was to develop a workshop that engaged youth and adults could use to develop their understanding of the local food movement and sustainable agriculture movement in their community and across Canada.

Engaging Youth in Climate Justice

Start Date: 2012
Curriculum Links: Science 8-11, Social Studies 11, Social Justice 12, Law 12
Project Partners: Canadian Council for Policy Alternatives, GenWhy Media
Project Funders: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Recent research and publications from the Canadian Council for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) highlight the importance of a more integrated and equitable climate strategy. This project is focused on engaging young people on climate research and empowering youth to contribute to the larger public discussion on climate change. For Check Your Head, the Engaging Youth in Climate Justice project involves designing, piloting, and facilitating a new Climate Justice workshop with youth around British Columbia in order to build a dialogue on the role of power and privilege in the causes and effects of climate change. In addition to  the workshop, this project will engage youth through public dialogue events, and producing accessible information and research for the general public. Collectively, the CCPA, GenWhy Media, and CYH hope to educate and inspire youth to take action on local and global climate issues.

Get Your Vote On

Date: 2004 (Get Your Vote On has since become a project that exists separately from Check Your Head)

Get Your Vote On is a non-partisan voter engagement campaign by and for young folks that was started by Check Your Head. After seeing a disconnect between young people’s passion for social and environmental justice issues in our workshops and their low turnout in elections, we sought to develop a community to connect youth to electoral politics through conversations about citizenship and democracy. Through Get Your Vote On, we registered 20,000 first-time voters and organized dozens of election-focused events for young people; our strategy included text messaging (this was the first time the technology was used for political organizing in Canada) and a very rough social networking site that has since evolved into an active online network that bring youth perspectives to the fore during elections, distributes information about politics and the election process and connects youth across the country. Get Your Vote On is still around and is active during every election.

Getting Global

Date: 2007

In the Summer of 2007, Check Your Head hosted biweekly documentary film screenings for youth that were followed by open discussions of the key global issues related to the films. The film and discussion series was advertised in the community and open to all youth and yielded engaging conversations on issues such as war and violence, corporate control, racism, environmental degradation and more.

Growing Check, Growing Change

Start Date: 2014

Curriculum Links: Civic Studies 12, First Nations Studies 12, History 12, Home Economics 8-9, Science 8-11, Social Studies 8-11, Social Justice 12, Law 12
Project Funders: Vancouver Foundation

Growing Check, Growing Change is a multiyear project to strengthen Check Your Head’s core programming and meet the increasing demand on our social and environmental justice workshops. Building on best practices from previous projects, CYH is developing a long-term volunteer strategy to train and empower youth to deliver our library of 10 issues based workshops across BC. Youth are provided with facilitation training, mentorship from community leaders, and opportunities to deliver workshops in youth spaces including schools, universities, and community groups. This volunteer strategy expands our staff’s capacity to provide community based programming in areas outside of workshop delivery. Growing Check, Growing Change enables CYH to reach more communities and deliver social and environmental justice education to an increasing number of youth across BC.


Humanities 100/101

Date: Check Your Head was involved from 2007 – 2009, though the program is ongoing.
Project Partner: University of British Columbia Faculty of Arts

Free university learning for low-income youth without the strings and barriers associated with full-time post-secondary study! Youth living in and around the Downtown Eastside were able to participate in a non-credit, university level course on media, art and identity – learning about things like video production, YouTube, media theory, Marshall McLuhan and more. Check Your Head participated in this exciting program, which was launched in 1999 and counts over 450 graduates, as a partner involved in designing outreach materials, training outreach facilitators and program coordinators, and evaluating the program.

Inclusion and Anti-Racism Project

Start Date: 2016
Curriculum Links: Social Studies 10-11, Social Justice 12, First Nations Studies 12, Law 12, 
Project Funders: Coast Capital Savings, LUSH

This project was established in response to an increasing youth-identified need for young people to connect to their own histories and experiences of migration in Canada. The Inclusion and Anti-Racism project seeks to engage and empower youth to better understand immigration, race, and issues of belonging in Canada. This project supports youth in facilitating dialogues on migrant justice with their peers and becoming actively engaged in their communities.

As part of this project, we have trained youth to deliver the Migrant Justice workshop to young people across BC. The expansive research and community activism work done by No One Is Illegal has informed the development of CYH’s Migrant Justice workshop. The workshop has already been delivered in public high schools, universities, and in community organizations.  The Migrant Justice workshop gives youth the tools to break down anti-migrant racism and colonial stereotypes, resulting in safer schools and communities.

Thank you to Omar Chu of NOII and Sanctuary Health, Sayeh Yousefi, Tsatia Adzich of the Metis Nation of BC, vanessa bui and Romi Chandra-Herbert of PeerNetBC, Susanne Tabata of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens Association, aly dee, Kevin Huang of Hua Foundation, and Cicely-Belle Blain of Black Lives Matter Vancouver for your support of and involvement in this project. 

Media and (You)th: Building Positive Communities Online

Start Date: 2015
Curriculum Links: Science 8-11, Social Studies 11, Social Justice 12, Law 12
Project Partners: Open Media
Project Funders: Coast Capital Savings

The Media and (You)th: Building Positive Communities Online project is a partnership between CYH and Open Media that aims to empower youth in the Lower Mainland with knowledge, skills, and resources to create positive, inclusive, and safe online communities. Open Media’s work has identified a serious need to engage, educate and empower people to build collaborative online communities and protect online rights around issues of privacy, access, and free expression. A new Media and (You)th workshop will be developed in collaboration with Open Media to highlight the leading role of youth in shaping digital media content. In extension, a team of youth will be trained to take online action on issues they are passionate about to bring the voices of young people to the forefront.

Migrant Justice

Start Date: 2014
Curriculum Links: Social Studies 10-11, Social Justice 12, First Nations Studies 12, Law 12, 
Project Partners: No one is Illegal 

In response to an increasing youth-identified need for young people to connect to their own histories and the history of indigenous communities in Canada, the Migrant Justice project seeks to engage and empower youth to better understand immigration in Canada. The Migrant Justice project is founded on the expansive research and community activism work done by No one is Illegal. Their work has informed the development of CYH’s newest workshop, Migrant Justice. Through this partnership, we have trained youth with lived migrant experience to deliver the Migrant Justice workshop to young people across BC. The workshop has already been delivered in public high schools, universities, and in community organizations. The Migrant Justice project gives youth the tools to break down anti-migrant racism and colonial stereotypes, resulting in safer schools and communities.

Open House Series

Start Date: 2015
Curriculum Links: Social Studies 11, Social Justice 12, Law 12
Project Funders: Vancouver Foundation YPC

The Open House Series at Check Your Head are youth-created, youth-organized, and youth-led bi-monhtly community gatherings that take place at the CYH office. CYH youth volunteers place and lead evening gatherings on various social and environmental justice. Activities range from art projects and film screenings, to youth made and led workshop activities. The Open House events provides non-traditional youth spaces for young people to learn about the issues that impact them and build community with their peers.

Step Up

Date: 2008
Project Partners: Britannia Community Services Centre

The Step Up program was created in 2008 as a second step for students looking to get involved in social and environmental justice issues beyond the Check Your Head Workshops. It connected to all of the workshops and linked to BC’s Graduation Portfolio (later called Graduation Transitions) to allow students to receive credit for their participation and contributions to the community. Step Up activities gathered youth, Check Your Head staff, community organizations and community leaders for a series of youth nights on themes connected to globalization, climate justice, media awareness, racism and food security. The goal was to develop extracurricular engagement opportunities related to both issues as well as skill-building. The final Step Up program gathered a diverse group of youth and included film screenings and debrief discussions, dialogues about poverty, the Olympics and climate justice, a hip-hop skill-building night and more.

Sustain: Media Arts & Environmental Education Intensive

Date: Summer 2011
Project Partners: Environmental Youth Alliance, Pull Focus Films, Reel Youth
Project Funders: Vancouver Foundation

In July and August of 2011, Check Your Head partnered with the Environmental Youth Alliance, Pull Focus Films, and Reel Youth for the Sustain intensive. Ten youth participated in this innovative project bridging environmental education and media, devoting their summer to learning about key social and environmental issues and then creating mobile apps, animations and documentaries based on their learning. Youth participated in a series of CYH workshops including Food Justice, Income Inequality, Sea of Change, and Mapping Power over the course of two weeks. The workshops took place at the beautiful Strathcona Community Gardens, creating a unique hands-on learning environment where participants could explore the eco-pavilion and engage in gardening activities to gain a better understanding of the natural world around them. After the CYH workshops, participants had the opportunity to apply their knowledge and experience to create short films, mobile app concepts, and animations focused on sustainability issues. The program concluded with a public screening of the films at the Reel Youth Film Festival. You can see all of the youth-created films here.

Sustainable Schools

Date: 2007 – 2009
Curriculum Links: Social Studies 8 – 11, Social Justice 12, Planning 10, Science 8-10, Biology 11
Project Funders: Vancity, Vancouver Foundation, Hamber Foundation, Chris Spencer Foundation

Working closely with the Vancouver School Board and elementary and secondary schools across Vancouver, the Sustainable Schools project gathered together young people and their allies in a spirit of hope and collaboration to take coordinated action on local environmental issues. The project organized forums, facilitated visioning sessions, developed specific environmental action plans with school champions, supported these actions, created an Action Guide, and connected interested youth and their allies to broader environmental justice networks. The project had five key focus areas:

  1. Air quality and transportation;
  2. Wildlife preservation and habitat restoration;
  3. Renewable energy;
  4. Wastershed, wetland and marine ecosystem restoration;
  5. Climate change

The vision for the Sustainable Schools project was to connect localized sustainability efforts, increase the sustainability of participant schools and reduce waste and energy output, put youth power and learning at the center of the process and focus on the connections between environmental, economic and social justice. Projects initiated through Sustainable Schools include composting and recycling programs, organic gardening projects, green roofs and more. Many of the initiatives that were created and launched through Sustainable Schools live on in schools across the Lower Mainland.

The Dirt on Food: Food Justice Project

Date: 2010-2011, though the Dirt on Food workshop is ongoing
Curriculum Links: Social Studies 8 – 11, Social Justice 12, Foods 10 – 12, Planning 10
Project Funders: Vancouver Foundation Youth Philanthropy Council, Hamber Foundation, Health Sciences’ Association

The Food Justice Project is an interactive, youth-driven and action focused initiative on the ethics of food production and consumption. The project highlights the strong connection between what we eat and how our food choices affect the world around us. It also provides young people with a chance to explore the issues surrounding how we currently consume food and to discuss realistic ways that we can grow food in a more sustainable and mindful way. The project included the development of an interactive workshop that remains a staple in the CYH workshop repertoire, facilitation training, the creation of a community map of Metro Vancouver food justice solutions, and community events like Eat This! Art Feeds Us.

You Too

Date: 2007 – 2008
Project Funders: Capilano University, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

You Too was a partnership between Check Your Head and the Global Stewardship program at Capilano College that aimed to raise awareness of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, build leadership and facilitation skills amongst youth and create connections between students and community organizations in the Lower Mainland. Beginning with outreach and training at Capilano College, students in the Global Stewardship program were supported as they developed workshop creation and facilitation skills. Training culminated with the students’ creation of their own workshops on topics related to the Millennium Development Goals that interested them – including missing indigenous women and the Highway of Tears, HIV/AIDS, and more. Together with student volunteers and school champions, You Too also involved organizing conferences at secondary schools to facilitate discussion on the Millennium Development Goals (what they are, why they are important, and what youth can do about them), present the student-led workshops and give high school students the opportunity to meet and connect with local organizations working towards the Millennium Development Goals. In addition to the conferences, Check Your Head and the Global Stewardship Program developed a coordinator’s guide for youth interested in creating workshops, facilitating discussion and organizing events.

Youth & Gender Media Project

Start Date: 2011
Curriculum Links: Social Studies 8 – 11, Planning 10, Social Justice 12
Project Partners: Project Respect, North Shore Women’s Center, UBC Sexual Assault Support Center, West Coast LEAF
Project Funders: Status of Women Canada (Year 1 & 2); Canadian Women’s Foundation (Year 3)

The Youth and Gender Media Project educates youth about gender-based violence perpetuated in the media. The project has three main components: a new workshop on gender-based violence in the media that will be facilitated in schools and community groups across the province, a mentorship program linking youth to woman-identified activists, leaders, and community members, and a facilitation training component to build a core of volunteers and co-facilitators. Through interactive activities, media analysis, collaborative partnerships, and peer education, we will examine issues around gender violence and encourage open dialogue to explore ways to de-construct the messages youth receive about gender identity.

Youth and the Labour Movement

Start Date: 2011
Curriculum Links: Social Studies 8 – 11, Planning 10, Social Justice 12, Civics
Project Funders: The Berger-Marks Foundation

The goal of “Youth and the Labour Movement: Connecting Young People, Unions, and Social Justice” is to highlight the connections between the labour movement and social and environmental justice with an emphasis on women’s rights and youth activism. In the first phase of this project, we re-designed both our Globalization 101 workshop as well as our Sweatshops workshops and both now have new activities and new facilitators’ guides that emphasize the connections between the labour movement and social justice. A new “T-Shirt Web” activity, for example, traces the travels of a t-shirt from cotton production through manufacturing and retail and ending with recycling. The activity is an example of the geographic, economic, labour, material, and power-related connections between various global communities and individuals that this project is hoping to incorporate into all of our workshops. In the second phase of the project, we shifted our focus to the Food Justice and Income Inequality workshops. For those workshops, we developed activities exploring the often invisible migrant labour in our food systems, the gender pay gap, and developed resource sheets for teachers and students. Here again, the focus was on drawing young people’s attention to the gender and labour aspects of two social issues (food justice and income inequality in this case). Most recently, with the support of the Berger-Marks Foundation, we adopted this same lens for two additional workshops: Gender Representations and Climate Change. Amongst other changes to these workshops that emphasized labour and gender issues, we added new information on the impact of development on indigenous women and unionized workers, explored union-busting in bottled water factories, and introduced youth to the issue of pinkwashing. The Youth and the Labour Movement project provides us with an invaluable opportunity to reflect on our workshops, study evaluation forms closely, and add new activities and information that reinforces the connections between social and environmental justice issues.

Youth Speak Out!

Date: 2006
Project Partners: BC Nurses’ Union, BC Health Coalition, KAYA, Asian Society for the Intervention of AIDS (ASIA)

A project that engaged at-risk and street-involved youth to discuss the challenges that they face. Youth Speak Out! sought to address social injustices as defined by the people involved in the project. The project aimed to provide various opportunities for street active young people to engage politically and develop tools to advocate for themselves and their communities. Specifically, the project developed workshops for drop-in centres and community organizations that promoted discussions of the impact of government policies on youth and explored ways to affect change in the community. It also involved non-partisan, engaging street outreach leading up to the civic election and the creation of a resource guide building on the experiences of street active youth. Key issues that young people prioritized throughout the course of the project were police brutality, housing and safe shelter, accessibility to health and other services, racism and ageism in service provision and addiction services. Youth Speak Out! was recognized with a City of Vancouver Youth Award for Best Youth Program.

Youth Voice Project / ON TRAC (Transitioning Responsibly to Adult Care)

Start Date: 2012
Project Partners: University of British Columbia, Child Health BC, Shared Care Committee, BC Children’s Hospital, BC College of Family Practice, Patient Voices Network, Emily Carr University of Art and Design
Project Funders: Vancouver Foundation

The ON TRAC initiative mandate is to ensure health care transition from pediatric to adult community care for youth with chronic health conditions/disabilities (CHC/Ds) is comprehensive, continuous, safe, youth focused and culturally sensitive. This project, through direct engagement of youth in all processes, will ensure that all new developments are relevant, meaningful and effective for the population they are intended to serve.CYH will design, implement, and facilitate youth-led project activities with both health care providers and youth participants. Additional partnerships include disease specific organizations (Diabetes, Crohn’s/Colitis, Spina Bifida) to assist in outreach and support of youth participants.