Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Solidarity through Action at Ecole St. Luc

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Ecole st luc collage

This week, 5 students from the Ecole St. Luc set up shop in their school cafeteria to spread the word about Head & Hands and raise funds to support our programs and services.

In case you may have forgotten, the secondary school cafeteria is not a quiet space. During the lunch hour, the cafeteria was loud and bursting with energy in every direction. The students rose to the challenge, managing a line-up at their bake sale table while distributing pamphlets and starting conversations with fellow students about the support available to them at Head & Hands. According to the students, their biggest challenge was attracting youth to the table, because many of the youth in their school didn’t know about Head & Hands yet.

Their creative pitch: $1 for a brownie, and to help us make sure you have support in your adolescent lives!

This week’s fundraiser was part of a year-long project that the students are working on, with support from Madame Blondin. According to the students, they wanted to get involved with Head & Hands because we’re in their neighborhood, and we help people who are their age.

Earlier in the school year, they came to Head & Hands for a tour of our programs and services. They met the team, and talked about what it means to work in solidarity with an organization. They learned about our holistic and harm-reductive approach, and why it is so important to have youth services that meet youth where they’re at, so that they could become advocates for Head & Hands in their school and community. They have outreach and fundraising activities planned throughout the year, including a car wash coming up in the spring!

We truly love when youth get involved in supporting other youth in our community. No effort is too small, and everyone has something to contribute. We’re thrilled that these Ecole St. Luc students are learning fundraising skills, and becoming advocates for youth health in Montreal!

If you would like more information about how to become involved with our Solidarity through Action campaign, here are guides for students and the general public

 

 

Ten Tips for Keeping your Vagina Healthy and Happy!

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The vagina is an amazing sexual and reproductive organ. Most of the time vaginas are really good at taking care of themselves. Sometimes though, harmful bacteria and parasites are introduced into the vagina and its surrounding areas, which can result in unpleasant infections such as yeast, bacterial vaginosis (BV), urinary tract infections (UTIs), and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Here are a few helpful tips to keep your vagina happy and healthy!

Health Services Coordinator Jos with a Happy and Healthy (albeit fabric) Vagina!

Health Services Coordinator Jos with a Happy and Healthy (albeit fabric) Vagina!

1) Wear cotton underwear. Avoid synthetic materials like polyester so your vagina can breathe.

2) Wash your hands. Remember to wash your hands before you insert a tampon or menstrual cup, before masturbating and/or having sex. Ask your partner(s)s to wash their hands before sex too.

3) Avoid getting soap inside your vagina. Soap can upset your vaginal flora, so best to wash your genitalia with just water.

4) Don’t douche. Douches often contain irritating perfumes and can flush out the flora that you need to maintain a healthy vagina. Douching can lead to an infection or help spread an infection farther into the reproductive system, so best to not do it.

5) Wipe from front to back after you pee. There can be harmful bacteria hanging around your bum, don’t bring it forward to your sensitive parts! Use the same logic when it comes to anal sex. If a penis, toy or finger has been in your bum, don’t put it in your vagina afterwards without washing it or putting a new condom on it.

6) Pee after sex. This helps to flush out any bacteria that could have entered the urethra during sex, helping to prevent UTIs. Drinking cranberry juice can help prevent UTIs as well.

7) Eat plain yoghurt! It contains active bacterial culture that is good for your vaginal health and helps to prevent yeast infections. It’s an especially good idea to eat yogurt (ideally without sugar) anytime you’re taking antibiotics because they can make you more prone to yeast infections. If you don’t eat yogurt, you can also get acidophilus in pill form at your local health food store.

8) Use a condom. Penises and shared sex toys can introduce harmful bacterias into the vagina, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea (and other STIs). Be safe, use a condom if you’re having penetrative sex. And make sure to get tested regularly.

9) Never leave a tampon in for longer than 6-8 hours. Leaving a tampon in for too long can result in toxic shock syndrome (TSS), which can be fatal. Avoid sleeping with tampons in. Consider using pads or menstrual cups (like the Keeper or Divacup) instead. Menstrual cups can be left in for up to 12 hours.

10) Get to know your vagina! Look at it with a mirror. Get to know how it looks, smells and tastes. It’s normal for your vagina to have a slight odour and some discharge. Your discharge will change somewhat throughout your menstrual cycle and when you are sexually aroused. While you’re at it, get to know your menstrual cycle too (you can track it on a calendar, or there are lots of free period apps now for smart phones!). Pay attention to what’s normal for you, that way if ever something is out of the ordinary (like increased discharge, a funny smell, itchiness or irritation, pain, bumps/sores/rashes, abnormal bleeding and/or a late period), you’ll know to get it checked out.

Faggity Ass Saturday: Return to the Playhouse!

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faggity ass fridays january

For the past 8 YEARS, Faggity Ass Fridays (FAF) has brought party people onto the dance floor and straight into our hearts at Head & Hands. As Montreal’s longest-running queer dance party, FAF is forever young and forever grateful for all of the folks who come out every month to dance for social change.

2015 marks a new chapter for FAF: we’re moving venues, back to The Playhouse! The Playhouse saw our favorite little dance party grow into its fabulous self, and now we’re back, stronger than ever and ready to party.

On January 31st, come celebrate a new year and a new venue with us as Faggity Goes Homo, exceptionally on a Saturday this month.

As always, all donations collected at the door go directly to the Sense Project, Head & Hands’ holistic, sex-positive, and queer-friendly sex education program. We’ll  be on the dance floor, sweating and grooving to make sure Montreal youth get the sex education they deserve.

Unfortunately, The Playhouse is not wheelchair accessible. There is one flight of stairs into the venue. If you’re interested in specific measurements or more information about accessibility, please contact the host of the party at faggity@headandhands.ca

DJs:

JNNBNNRCK

J’VLYN D’ARK

Hostess: 

J’VLYN D’ARK

Saturday January 31st, 10pm-3am

18+

The Playhouse (5656 avenue du Parc) 

$10 suggested donation, PWYC, no one turned away

 

Affirmations Deck

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“We thought carefully about things we wished we had access to when we were struggling with our identities, or when we were struggling with the erasure, normativity, and violence in our everyday world…It is our hope that this deck finds its way to the hands of young queer and trans folks who might not otherwise have access to supportive communities.”

– “The Affirmations Deck” intro

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If you’ve been in the reception area at Head & Hands lately, you may have noticed a few new posters up on our wall. We recently came across the Affirmations Deck and loved them so much we had to put them up!

The Affirmations Deck was created by a group of queer and trans* youth involved with Planned Parenthood Toronto’s Filling in the Blanks: Queering SexEd project, coordinated by former Head & Hands boardie, and monthly donor, Carly Boyce!  Each card features a statement to help youth feel seen, valued, and supported. The cards touch on A BUNCH of topics, including bodies, consent, gender, identity, healing/recovery, self-love, relationships, and more.

You can scroll through a few examples below, or check out the entire deck & learn more about Queering SexEd online here (you can even print your own copy and add your own affirmations!). You can also flip through the deck at our main office– we’ve got them all printed out in our reception area.

 

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Check out Monster Academy!!!

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monster academy logo

Are you under 25? Are you interested in talking about mental health?

Monster Academy might be the right fit for you!

Head & Hands has long been committed to combating the silence around mental health, a silence which can lead to isolation, alienation, stigma and criminalization. We think that conversations about mental health can be powerful and transformative, and we are pretty excited to introduce you to Monster Academy, an exciting new(ish) initiative launched in Montreal in June 2014.

Monster Academy is a social justice–oriented workshop series designed to provide accessible, anti-oppressive mental health skills training to youth in Montreal. It is also intended to open a restorative dialogue around the silencing and stigmatization of “being crazy” in the broader Montreal community. Monster Academy is based upon the principles of empowerment, harm reduction, respect for self and others, interdependence, mindfulness, and community serving community.

Here at Head & Hands, we believe in the power of youth as leaders, teachers, and educators. We believe in prioritizing and creating space for voices in our communities. These are shared values with Monster Academy.

Monster Academy offers a FREE 8-workshop course for youth aged 16 to 25. Workshops contain practical components such as self-care and mental health intervention skills, guided discussion on mental health–related topics, and other skills such as group animation. They also offer support to youth interested in developing their own community projects.

Monster Academy is currently accepting participants for the winter 2015 Monster Academy: Mental Health Skills for Montreal Youth program. Application deadline is January 31st! Click here if you are interested in more information or would like to take a look at the application.

Winter Closure

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Winter is here! As usual, all Head & Hands locations and services are shutting down for the next two weeks (December 22, 2014 – January 4, 2015) so that we can rest up and prepare for the year ahead.

All our services will re-open and run on their regular schedules as of January 5, 2015.

Thank you to our volunteers, interns, board of directors, donors, supporters, friends, allies, and staff, as well as to NDG youth and the community for an amazing year!

We wish you all a very happy new year. See you in 2015!

Give the gift of…. Head & Hands!

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Did you know that this past year, 40% more clients accessed our emergency food pantry than ever before??  Or that overall demand for our programs increased almost 15% this past year??  The need for our medical, legal, and social services is growing, and so as we prepare to close for our winter break, please allow us to re-introduce our cutest fundraising campaign: Give the Gift!

When you donate online through Give the Gift, you’ll receive a package of custom-designed cards, ready to print at home and give to friends and family on behalf of each donation. Give the Gift was made possible thanks to two talented local Head & Hands supporters: web programmer, Danielle Bakhazi, and youth artist, J’VLYN.

No matter the occasion, we’ve got you covered in English and French, with cards for celebrating gratitude, birthdays, anniversaries, congratulatory moments, incredible friendships, a new life, or just because!

Give the Gift cards are perfect for the person who says they don’t need anything, who doesn’t want more stuff, who wishes they had more time to volunteer, who believes in buying local, who believes in homemade gifts, who believes in ethical giving, who you have no idea what to buy, for the person who loves Head & Hands, and for the person that you love.

No matter who is on the receiving end, they can’t deny the wicked awesome goodness that comes from a donation being made in one’s honour to support youth in our community.

Okay, so we’ve explained why it’s amazing. But how does it WORK?!

1. Go to our Give the Gift page by clicking here

2. Decide how much you want to donate via your credit card or PayPal account

3. Receive a PDF file with a ton of beautiful cards

4. Pick the card you like

5. Print the card you like

6. Personalize it and send it!

7. Enjoy being the best gift giver ever.

It’s easy and fabulous.

Throwback Thursday: Students in Mind Conference

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students in mind

On October 5th, Rhonda, our Social Counselor, attended the 2nd annual Students in Mind conference at McGill University. The conference aimed to create a space for the McGill community to come together to change the mental health climate on campus and to reflect on the role mental health plays in everyday life.

Rhonda was excited to attend the conference to bring mental health to the forefront of conversations— to make it a topic that can be talked about, rather than hidden. “Unless people have been depressed themselves, it is very difficult to imagine what it is like,” Rhonda explains. “When students feel they’re depressed or anxious, they need to be able to talk about it.”

Around 150 students came to campus on a Sunday for the conference, which included workshops on self-care and peer support, speeches, and panels on topics such as cross-cultural portrayals of mental health, social media and mood, and student strategies for mental health.

Rhonda spoke on a Mental Health/Illness & Criminality panel, which discussed the over-representation of people with various forms of mental illness in the criminal justice system, and ways to address the marginalization and isolation of people in need of mental health support.

Mental health support is notoriously difficult to access in Montreal; many youth are unable to access appropriate, affordable support and can fall through the cracks of the existing social safety net, which can lead to marginalization and criminalization. Existing support systems, like schools, social workers, and psychologists, are often overwhelmed with cases and are not always able to provide appropriate, ongoing support to youth.

Rhonda is able to support youth facing mild to moderate depression or personal crises, and works in collaboration with Dr. Tellier to support youth who want a mental health evaluation from a doctor.  Dr. Tellier is able to provide evaluations at our medical clinic and referrals to psychiatrists. As always at Head & Hands, our mental health support services are holistic, non-judgmental, and focused on giving youth the support they need to make informed choices about their mental and physical well-being.

Solidarity through Action: Spotlight on MedCoach

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MedCoach brings together current medical school students and medical school hopefuls seeking help with their applications. Founded in 2012 by Leah Feldman, MedCoach has had a successful debut, coaching people from diverse backgrounds through the rigorous medical school application process. This year, they are donating 100% of their profits to support Head & Hands. We sat down with Leah to find out more.

Head & Hands: Tell us about MedCoach!

Leah: It is difficult for medical school hopefuls, who don’t know anyone in the field of medicine, to find someone to give them advice about what to expect and how to prepare for medical school. There are many groups that charge handfuls of money to revise your application, but the best way to know if you belong in medical school is to meet someone who is going through it.

MedCoach is a group of current medical students who are passionate about sharing their experiences in medical school and coaching people through the application process. We focus on understanding what it means to be in medical school/become a physician, CV and cover letter revision, and interview skills training, at an affordable price!

H&H: How does MedCoach support community organizations?

Leah: We want to support local charities while providing an amazing coaching service at a fair price. Every year, our coaches and coachees suggest and vote on a local charity to which we donate 100% of our earnings for that year.

H&H: Why did you choose Head & Hands as your community partner this year?

Leah: MedCoach looks for charities that are in line with our philosophy: to provide opportunities to everyone, regardless of where they come from or who they know. Head & Hands is a perfect example of an organization that provides a wealth of services to local youth and helps them achieve their goals.

H&H: What does the future have in store for MedCoach?

Leah: We’re looking to expand this year! We have more coaches and we are planning to host more events. Our fundraising goals are bigger this year, and we are looking forward to being able to donate even more to local charities. One of the biggest challenges for our team is spreading the word about MedCoach to CEGEPs and universities around Quebec. We would like to be able to offer services to anyone interested in pursuing a career in medicine!

H&H: How can people get involved?

Leah: If you have ideas about how to improve MedCoach, email us  at medicinecoach@gmail.com, or visit our Facebook page. If you know anyone (or maybe yourself) who is interested in learning about how to become a doctor, tell them to send us a message and we would be happy to set up a meeting!

Halloween at the Young Parents Program

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halloween party collage

Last Wednesday, the Young Parents Program (YPP) had lots of fun in the spirit of Halloween! 45 people, including YPP parents, children, staff, and volunteers, gathered together to turn YPP into a Halloween wonderland, complete with:

  • a fabulous haunted house for the children, created and animated by 5 parents who may have enjoyed it even more than their young ones;
  • a joint parent-child pumpkin decorating activity;
  • decorating paper bags for candy and trick-or-treating around the YPP building;
  • a costume contest for the parents, with prizes for the best, cutest, and scariest costumes;
  • a potluck meal, with an amazing spread from squash and pasta to homemade bread;
  • a dance party, of course!

No surprise, this YPP party was a grand success!

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