During Elizabeth Stankiewicz’s undergraduate studies in psychology at UWaterloo, she volunteered in a homeless shelter for youth. There, she learned how bright and talented these young people were, and realized that many of them were homeless because of difficult life circumstances. While observing the good work of shelters, she began to think about the more complex needs these youth have, and ways she might help them.
"Many people have prejudiced ideas about this population because they are unaware of the true causes of youth homelessness,” Elizabeth said. “As one learns more about the issue of youth homelessness, it becomes apparent that these youth have found themselves in these situations because of disadvantage and unfortunate life circumstances. I want to facilitate the elevation of their status. I want to help them realize their full potential."
To do so, Elizabeth plans to pursue graduate studies in social work, but in the meantime, she thought St. Paul’s GreenHouse would be a great way to test out some of her ideas.
“I’m developing a skill-building program for homeless youth with a mental health focus. The program will not only provide homeless youth with the tools to prevent the cycle of recurring homelessness, but also to allow them to lead more fulfilling lives.” These tools include coping strategies for depression, anxiety, and ADHD, as well as skill development in problem solving, goal setting, and interpersonal communication.
As a GreenHouse student, her intention is to develop a prototype program and to run a pilot study with a local organization.
"I’ve been able to make connections I wouldn’t have otherwise made. I’m also learning about the business side of things, which was something I didn’t know much about.” She adds, “It’s wonderful to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who are passionate about creating social impact.”