Michelle Robinson and Emma Harper

Whitecourt, Alberta

Michelle Robinson

Making Waves: WhyTry in Whitecourt

Emma Harper and Michelle Robinson are making waves in Whitecourt, Alberta. They have a longstanding implementation of the WhyTry Program, and over the years they evolved to include a broader set of stakeholders. According to Michelle Robinson, the team lead for Whitecourt’s Family Support Program:

Our implementation of WhyTry is a collaboration that brings together community youth development and other essential programs, ensuring comprehensive support for the community’s youth.

WhyTry Summer Camp

Emma and Michelle wanted to cast a broader net, so, last summer they adapted the WhyTry metaphors to fit into a summer camp, providing life skills training and mental health support to a broader group. They transformed the traditional classroom curriculum into immersive experiences, bringing the metaphors to life, they visited the rec center’s lazy river to explore the Motivation Formula, and rode scooters at an obstacle course for Jumping Hurdles.

We had the metaphor laminated, so it could get wet. We had the kids float along, and then we would have them walk upstream to demonstrate resistance. Then we’d give them life rafts, relating that to positive self-talk. So, we had fun with the analogy, but then we would process it and talk through how they could build their proverbial life raft.

We were doing this activity with labels where we had the kids visualize their negative labels by drawing them on butcher paper. This one girl drew a bunch of really beautiful dragons. I asked her to tell me about them, and she said ‘…well, this is the dragon of depression and this one is my anger… my explosions can be fiery…’ At the end of the activity, I almost didn’t want her to tear up her labels, they were so beautiful. But she did. 

And when she tore up those dragons, she got really emotional. ‘I think I need some help…’ she said, and she initiated a referral to our program for more one-on-one intensive counseling support. 

We’ve been slaying her dragons together, one at a time, for the last six months. Our community-based program helped a student feel safe and comfortable seeking counseling, whereas before she might’ve been a little bit more hesitant to initiate that… a little bit more fearful

Emma Harper

A Common Language

Emma is expanding the WhyTry program to neighboring communities to the north of Whitecourt, with plans to introduce it to a new school. They appreciate how a common language helps them to quickly talk about what’s going on.

I will use WhyTry individually with some youth clients, and some of those new clients have already had the benefit of the messaging. It’s quicker to have conversations about what’s happening. I can ask ‘…hey, are you on the easy-fast track? Is that going to get you where you want to go?

Get Started Today

Through Emma and Michelle’s use of the WhyTry program, they were able to see tangible results with the youth in their community. What could WhyTry do for your youth?

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