COVID-19 Update - Important Information
By Jane Kitchen, Senior Communications Advisor
Originally published on Connections, the SickKids CCMH staff news site
June 9, 2020
The Intensive Services for Youth program at SickKids CCMH includes a day treatment program for ages 14 to 18 that integrates individual, family and group therapy with academic support across four classrooms. It also includes live-in treatment services.
While the live-in treatment program has been paused due to COVID-19, the team has transitioned the other components of service to a virtual model. While there was a need to reduce the intensity of service contact in a virtual model, one area that remains at full capacity is the youth groups supported by CYCPs, including the youth council and the social/recreation group.
Onsite, teens living in the residence plan their recreational programming at their youth council meeting early in the week, but now running on Zoom, youth from the day treatment and Central Toronto Academy classrooms can also participate in the planning and activities.
“The weekly youth council group acts as both a check-in to see how youth are doing and is an active component of co-design,” says Aparna Kajenthira, Manager, Intensive Services for Youth. “The youth decide what type of programming should be offered on Thursday’s social/recreation program.”
“A lot of suggestions come from the teens,” says Tanya Rozin, CYCP, and part of the regular team for recreational programming. “The CYCPs offer ideas if it’s quiet, but the teens usually come up with a list of six options or so, we put a poll on Zoom and they vote for what they want to do that week.”
In mid-April, the youth came up with just one idea: to create a Harry Potter-themed escape room in just three days. The CYCPs rose to the challenge, sharing ways of making it possible. Rozin created a slide deck with puzzles that youth would have to solve, working together to “escape.” CYCPs acted as “gatekeepers” to different parts of the “room” as they moved through the slides.
The youth not only came together as a team, but as different youth’s strengths came out, the CYCPs encouraged them to take leadership.
“As the program went along, some teens started emerging as leaders and delegating,” says Felipe Santander, CYCP, who supported Rozin and was one of the slide gatekeepers. “Others were considered as experts of Harry Potter facts, which came in handy with a Harry Potter-themed escape room!”
Giving youth the opportunity to work together also develops their interpersonal skills, the ability to take turns, and to be patient and encouraging.
“Escape rooms bring people together to work towards common goals,” says Rozin. “They are unique in this for sure.”
The youth were engaged from start to finish, and escaped the room with one minute to spare.
”I was amazed at the dedication, creativity, and thinking outside the box,” says Santander. “Shout out to the mastermind Tanya for creating such a great story line and puzzles. She really took this program to the next level.”
Since the escape room, youth have requested several other activities such as origami night, comedy night, name that tune, and a Pride Celebration. This week, they will be embarking on a youth-led escape room/choose your own adventure.