On September 26, 2011, Jamie and Yolanda Cameron of Walkerton lost their youngest son, Wes, to suicide. Devastated and desperate for answers, the Cameron family discovered that 16 year-old Wes was one of many teenagers in the area who were suffering alone and in silence. They realized that for young people struggling with mental health issues in this rural Ontario community, stigma was everywhere, but resources were nowhere. Only months after losing their son, the Cameron’s decided that they wanted to use the money donated to them in Wes’ name in a way that would attend to this issue. Because they had access to Wes’ social media accounts, they found that his peers were leaving numerous messages knowing that they wouldn’t be getting a response, but needing to release their emotions in the only place that seemed safe.
From this, the Cameron’s became inspired to look into creating an online counselling service for these young people to talk about their problems and actually have someone on the receiving end who could provide professional support. By June of 2013, they officially launched their free online therapy service for youth in Grey-Bruce and surrounding areas.
Co-founder Yolanda Cameron says that Wellness and Emotional Support for Youth Online (WFYO) exists because they want youth to know “it’s okay to have problems, and it’s okay to ask for help”.
After winning the “Youth at Risk” category for the Aviva Community Grant contest this past year, they are using their funds to finish building a new home for WFYO in Walkerton. This new building will serve as a community resource centre; with this, the online counselling service, and the launch of their brand new website, it is their hope to promote mental and emotional wellness amongst young people, and give teens and parents in Grey, Bruce Counties and surrounding areas access to the support they need.
Because my Mom, Cindy Davidson, was on the board of directors for WFYO, I had the opportunity to get involved by volunteering with fundraising and other special events. When summer time rolled around, I was informed that they had received funding to employ a summer student, and so I decided to apply for this amazing opportunity. I am so honoured and grateful to say that I was hired on as the “Youth Outreach Assistant”. Part of my job was to help in the planning and execution of special events, provide research support that focused on resources and materials related to youth mental wellness, co-manage social media activity, help to recruit a Youth Crew to represent WFYO, and many more incredible tasks and experiences.
After the passing of my Mom on August 3, I took some time off work but am lucky enough to have been offered to continue working as the Youth Outreach Assistant part time while I am attending university here in London. Working under Jenn and Yolanda has been such an honour and their incredible dedication and hard work is beyond inspiring. I could not be more thankful for this job and also for my involvement as a volunteer with mindyourmind, as it was definitely an asset in my position at WFYO.
I am so proud to know that amazing organizations such as these exist in our communities, and they deserve so much applause for everything that they do – locally and globally. We have a long way to go in conquering mental health and removing the stigma, but these local, non-profit organizations are critical and need all of the community support that they can get. While the online counselling currently only services Bruce, Grey and surrounding areas, with more funding and support, it is their goal to expand the services to further areas. To learn more and find out ways to get involved or support WFYO, please check out our newly launched website at and remember, a smile goes a long way!
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