About TSF

TSF aims to enhance and improve mental health and addiction resources and support networks for youth between the ages of 12-24 within Huron County. 

Together, we work to create a system that provides:

  • Rapid and easy access
  • Stigma free, low-barrier physical and virtual settings
  • Evidence-based, youth-specific interventions matched to the level of need
  • Early intervention
  • Youth and family partnership, engagement and support
  • Co-development and collaboration with youth, families, and community
  • Authentic partnerships with community service providers
  • Peer Support programs and training
  • Education and advocacy
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Continuous improvement and evaluation

We maximize our impact by following the evidence, partnering with others in the system, and most of all, listening to youth.

What does this look like in action? Here’s how we work to create a culture of change for youth mental health and addiction services in Huron County:

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We help youth & their caretakers navigate the mental health & addictions system by connecting them with local support and service agencies

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Empower youth to voice their needs, actively contribute to solutions, and set the direction of the Tanner Steffler Foundation through a Youth Advisory Council

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We collaborate with local parents, community members and school boards to facilitate and promote wellness and resilience in schools, while building a community of support for youth

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Educate parents, caregivers, community members and politicians through advocacy and presentations within the municipalities of Huron County

Our Story

Tanner StefflerOn June 6th, 2017 after a battle with substance use disorder, Tanner Steffler was sadly poisoned by a drug overdose at the young age of 19.  Tanner’s disorder is not what defined him, rather, he was a handsome teenager, an academic student and full of life and potential.  He had a great sense of humour, was a talented musician, enjoyed being with his peers, had a soft spot for his loveable bulldog and had college acceptances to fulfill his career goal of an X-ray technician.  Tanner grew up in a good home, was raised with strong values, love and kindness by his caring and supportive parents, John and Heather Steffler.  He also had two younger sisters who are well adjusted and healthy.  Tanner was remarkably honest and shared his struggle with those he knew loved and cared about him.  In many ways, Tanner was a typical teen, and could at a first glance, be anyone’s child.  His story solidifies for us, that addiction and mental health can impact anyone’s child, no matter their colour, creed, income or status.

In Huron County, access to mental health and addiction resources for youth are limited at best.  Throughout Tanner’s struggle with substance use disorder we know that he tried desperately to access support that would help him overcome his illness.  Tanner didn’t want to be an addict; he wanted treatment and he wanted to be well.  Despite their best efforts, Tanner and his family could not access services that would support his treatment and full recovery in a timely manner.  The medical system and outpatient services did not help Tanner, the school could not and the justice system does not.  The lack of appropriate services for Tanner and other youth like him is appalling.  In the end, the “system” failed Tanner and it cost him his life.  Unfortunately, this is a story we hear far too often; youth do not have adequate access to mental health and addiction services in Huron County.

After Tanner’s death, others reached out to John and Heather to share their stories of struggle.  All stories shared a common theme; our youth deserve better services.  Repeatedly, stories told of the lack of immediate access to services, short term treatment centres with no follow-up care, youth being shuffled from one provider to another, long waitlists and doors being closed repeatedly.  Despite their intense grief, John and Heather created Tanner Steffler Foundation in August 2017, and are committed to saving the lives of Huron County youth so that others don’t have to suffer like Tanner and his family.

The focus of the foundation is to enhance and improve the Mental Health and Addiction resources and support networks that are in place for youth between the ages of 12-24 within Huron County.  Youth Mental Health and Addiction is a broad area of concern for the entire healthcare, law and education partners and is an identified area of need within our community.

Current initiatives & opportunities

Peer Support Program (Youth and Family)

Our peer support program connects individuals in need of support with a trained volunteer who can relate to their situation firsthand. 

To volunteer as part of this program, click here. 

Crisis and Mental Health Support Training

In the past, TSF has hosted crisis and mental health support training in Huron County including certified programs such as ASIST, mental health first aid, and naloxone.

If you are interested in booking a training through TSF, please email admin@tannerstefflerfoundation.com


Presentations and Advocacy

Invite a Youth Advisory Council (YAC) member to speak at your event, school, work, or community organizations. Virtual and in-person presentations are available on a variety of mental health topics, including stigma reduction, wellness strategies, supporting others, and local resource sharing.  

To book a presentation or meet with a youth mental health advocate, please email admin@tannerstefflerfoundation.com


Past Programs & Partnerships

My Journey Program - Partnership & Sole Funder

My Journey was launched in partnership with Huron community Family Health Team. Within this program, a mental health professional acts as a System Navigator (SN) and a central point of contact to assist youth 12-24 who are experiencing mental health and/or substance use difficulties. The SN is located in the building in Seaforth, with service available to youth across Huron County.

The purpose of the My Journey Program is to provide a service wherein the SN helps to develop a treatment plan and works alongside the family physician and any other mental health community services in the individuals treatment plan to assure open communication between healthcare providers. This includes using one record to contain all health information, coordinating referrals with physicians and community services, collecting reports from all referrals with your family physician, monitoring progress and follow-up.

This coordination of care can significantly increase perception of satisfaction with services, as well as reducing stress and frustration when trying to self-navigate a complicated system.

Mental Health & Wellness Coach Program - Design Partner & Partial Funder

TSF funded the first Youth Wellness Coaches in Huron County high schools. The program has evolved, and now each school has a Youth Wellness Coach. This program is now overseen by the local school boards, and TSF continues to advocate for in-school resources in our area. 

Growing Resilience: Youth Social Emotional Learning (SEL) - Partial Funder

TSF was able to partner with Rural Response for Healthy Children as they introduced Youth Social Emotional Learning. Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children, youth and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. 

Proficiency in SEL is key to building relationships, emotional and behavioural regulation, and making decisions; all of which play important roles in how we learn and engage with the world around us.  In fact, SEL has been found to be as vital to school and work success as academic knowledge!

To learn more, visit: https://www.rrhc.on.ca/social-and-emotional-learning

Thank you to our valuable partners

Youth Wellness Hub
Huron Community Family Health
Huron Perth Addiction and Mental Health

Meet the Team

TSF is a youth-centred organization. Following the direction set by youth in our community, our organization partners with mental health professionals and community organizations to affect meaningful change in Huron-Perth.

Youth Advisory Council


Alison Snell (she/her)


Skylarr MacDonald-Webster (she/her)


Megan den Dekker (she/her)


Deidre Gerrits (she/her)
Youth Advisor


Charlee Steffler (she/her)
Youth Advisor


Nicki Van Bakel (she/her)
Social Media Executive

Jenna Peck

Jenna Peck (she/her)
Youth Advisor

Portrait of Leah Partridge

Leah Partridge (she/her)
Youth Advisor 

The Tanner Steffler Foundation is looking for 12 – 24 year old youth in Huron Perth County to join the Youth Advisory Council (YAC). The YAC is inclusive to all youth who reside in Huron Perth County with intersecting identities. There are members of the council who have lived experience and/or are obtaining education in mental health and addiction, furthermore, all of the members are passionate about being mental health and addictions advocates by advising TSF’s work in transforming youth mental health and addiction services in Huron County.

More About the Youth Advisory Council

The Guiding Principles of the YAC are as follows:
Nothing About Us, Without Us: support youth in participatory leadership from the axiom of “Nothing about us, without us”
Community Oriented: build a sense of community with authentic, brave, inclusive and equitable relationships
Shared Power: Value youth as active and skilled contributors to their wellness and valuable partners in mental health promotion
Transformation: strive for health equity and remove barriers that prevent access to mental health and substance use care
Anti-oppressive framework: develop anti-oppressive practices that encourage diversity and prioritize the needs and strengths of marginalized groups in service provisions
Youth-Led: advise the TSF on the ongoing mandates, communication and proposed services

Members meet for one hour bi-weekly in the evenings. There are members who invest more time outside of the meetings in accordance with their scheduling capacity as TSF recognizes that youth lead busy lives balancing academics, employment, extracurriculars, social wellbeing and self-care. All members record their individualized hours that they put into the council to receive signed volunteer hours from TSF’s Executive Director, Shannon McGavin. TSF will also be of reference to them in their future career path as TSF is confident in all of their diverse professional and personal abilities, moreover, their ability to adhere to the YAC Psychologically Safe Space mandate. Additionally, the YAC receives honorarium. Honorarium is a core part of this council so as not to tokenize or exploit youth for sharing their expertise. TSF is very appreciative for our Youth Advisor’s time and energy in attending the meetings, sharing their perspective and showing up as mental health and addictions advocates.


Portrait of Leah Partridge

Leah Patridge (she/her)
Co-op Student,

Ally Headshot

Ally Campbell (she/her)
Social Media & Project Support Coordinator

Board of Directors


Kim Hayter (she/her)


John Steffler (he/him)
President and Founder


Janice Shore


Shealyn DeVore (she/her)


Lorrie Goos (she/her)


Heather Steffler (she/her)
Director and Founder