Youth have always been overlooked when it comes to services around mental health and addictions and giving them somewhere, they can go to try and explore their thoughts, feelings, and emotions should be something high on our list as a society. Adolescents is a time of transformation, learning about yourself, and finding out the little things that may surprise you. However, our youth today struggle with not only the pressure they put on themselves but also the pressure the world and people around put on them.

Data that from the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health as indicated that one in five Canadians will experience a mental health or addiction problem within the next year. With youth between the ages of 15 to 24 most likely to experience these problems than any other age group.

Moving through the years form youth to young adulthood there are many different developmental shifts that occur, including but not limited to; a) physical change, b) the development of abstract thought, c) existential dilemmas such as needing a sense of meaning and purpose, d) a need for independence and support from adults, and e)a desire for intimacy and connection with others, in particular from their peer groups (Broderick and Blewitt, 2010). All the while they are questioning their values, beliefs, and goals that were previously set out by parents and others.

Adolescents are more likely to be drawn to a creative way to express themselves, either through music, dance, art, or play. The counselors that work with this age group are continuously changing how they work with their clients, as each person expresses themselves a different way. They are equipping themselves with new ways that the youth they work with can express themselves verbally and non-verbally that is also therapeutic. Photography is one of these many techniques.

PhotoVoice is a program happening at Serenity Renewal for Families, that teaches youth different elements of photography while also working on expressing their selves and enhancing their mental wellbeing. This program is fun and popular that empowers the participants to express emotions and life challenges through photography while also working in a creative way.

The group consists of presentations on mental health, self-esteem, self-care, social media, and current available community resources. It is also a space for lots of group discussions and allowing the participants to build connections and discuss issues that are effecting youth every day, such as relationships, stress and how to manage stress, along with other topics chosen by the group members themselves. Having a group to share their experience with not only will give them an outlet but also that social support and practical strategies on how to cope with the many challenges within their lives. At the end of the program we wrap it all up by holding a photo gallery for the family and friends featuring the work from the creative participants.

Serenity Renewal for Families has been providing an open door and welcoming environment to children, youth and families that have been impacted by addiction, emotional and relational challenges for 36 years. PhotoVoice is another one of our programs that we have to offer for youth to express and learn more about themselves in a creative way.

At Serenity Renewal for Families we will have two different groups this up coming January to May. First one for ages 12 to 14-year-old, being held on Wednesday evenings from February 12 to March 25 at 6pm to 7:30pm. The second one for ages 15 to 17-year old, being held on Wednesday evenings from April 29 to June 3, at 6pm to 7:30pm. If you would like to register for this or any of our other workshops, please call our office number below.

Kyla Groves is the Youth Program Coordinator at Serenity Renewal for Families. Our organization provides services for people struggling with addiction, their children and their families. To learn more or to donate to families in need, call 613-523-5143 or visit