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Resilience In Youth – protecting our fastest growing population

The youth rights and resilience focus on the protection from violence, the promotion of health, and the potential for wellness

Youth resilienceAdolescents are our fastest growing population, and their resilience is our concern. Dr. Christine Wekerle (Ph.D., Clinical Psychology) has been located in faculties of psychology, psychiatry, education, and pediatrics. Dr. Wekerle adopts a youth rights and resilience approach which recognizes the global agreement on the protection from violence, the promotion of health, and the potential for wellness. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child paved the way to create sustainable goals for youth development and healthy living. This includes a public health and safety attention to adolescence as a critical window of both risk and resilience, the need to prevent non-communicable diseases, and to promote intersectional, trauma-informed safe spaces and places for youth to explore, grow, and become. Dr. Christine Wekerle’s youth resilience research stems also from a social justice lens, addressing critical needs for violence prevention (child maltreatment, adolescent dating violence, and health risks from coping with trauma, such as substance abuse and sexual health risk-taking). Her research has focused on youth experiencing multiple adversity contexts, including those involved in the child welfare or child protection system, homeless youth, and youth seeking mental health treatment.  More recently, her gender-based violence and health work has centered on male sexual violence victims, an under-attended sub-group for prevention of and intervention for sexual exploitation.  Finally, this approach has evolved to include climate justice, with research models examining the connections among anxiety about Indigenous water resources and climate change, youth resilience and advocacy actions, and mental health and life promotion among Indigenous youth.  The trauma- and violence-informed approach is evident in the development of an app – JoyPopTM – that is intended to help build up a daily resilience routine. This approach extends to training – Trauma- and Violence-Informed Care for Health and Social Service Providers – provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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