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Before participating in the YMCA Youth Mindfulness Group,  Sophie had a hard time feeling comfortable in social  situations. "It was hard for me to find ways to calm down  when I had anxiety attacks" Sophie shares. After attending a  few sessions, Sophie started to feel more comfortable and  more connected with YMCA staff and group members. For  Sophie, her anxiety made it challenging to enjoy the little things in life and to maintain relationships or make new friends. Sophie never realized the impact that mindfulness would have on her life, but after attending the program and learning helpful coping strategies and mindfulness techniques, Sophie says that “mindfulness taught me the true importance of breathing. It taught me to take a break and focus on the moment and enjoy it”. Sophie immediately connected to other youth in the program and was comforted as she listened to them speak about their experiences and share their hopes and fears. Not only did Sophie benefit from hearing others share but she also felt valued and heard by group members.

After completing the Youth Mindfulness Group, Sophie gained the confidence to reconsider her place of employment and applied to the YMCA of Greater Vancouver so she could work with children - something she was passionate about. Sophie has been working at the YMCA since the fall of 2015 and is also a volunteer on the YMCA Youth Advisory Committee. This committee is made up of Youth Mindfulness graduates who contribute their time, energy, and expertise to supporting the YMCA develop and grow mental health programming. Sophie is passionate about making a difference and helping others find the right type of support for themselves. Sophie admits, “as cheesy as this sounds, this group changed my life and gave me a sense of belonging.”