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 meaningful change to youth mental health and addiction services in Huron County:
Connect local support services and help youth and their families navigate options, providing a seamless mental health & addictions system (My Journey Program)
Empower youth to voice their needs, actively contribute to solutions, and set the direction of the Tanner Steffler Foundation through a Youth Advisory Council
Work with the separate and public Boards of Education to establish full-time, in-school mental health and addiction specialists
Educate parents, caregivers, community members and politicians through advocacy and presentations within the municipalities of Huron County
Our next step!
Build and sustain an evidence-based Youth Addiction Treatment & Mental Health Resource and Wellness Facility in Huron County for our youth and their families.
On 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.
Programs & Partnerships
My Journey matches youth in need with a dedicated social worker, who helps them to navigate local services and support options. The social worker will make recommendations, act as a liaison, and follow up on the youth in need to make sure they get the help they need.
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.
In-school Mental Health Support
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
Thank you to our valuable partners
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
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.
Grace Bonnett (she/her)
I recently graduated from University of Toronto with a BSc. in Human Biology, Immunology & Sociology and am currently taking extra courses, working as well as applying for postgraduate school. I joined the YAC to educate myself and others and raise awareness regarding mental health and addictions issues in Huron County. Also to reduce barriers and expand health-related services in rural areas as this is a career objective for me in the future.
Julia DeJong (she/her)
I have worked with the Tanner Steffler Foundation in the past and feel that it is a great resource for our community. I wanted to stay involved and be a part of such a great organization.
Megan den Dekker (she/her)
I joined the Youth Advisory Council because I want to help spread awareness about how addictions and mental health can go hand to hand and I want to spread awareness how to get help and it is ok to not be ok and seek help to get better. I have not struggled myself but I know others struggle with addictions and how it can affect someone’s mental health.
Karissa Eckert (she/her)
Social Media Executive
My name is Karissa Eckert and I was born and raised in Seaforth, ON. I am currently working towards my Bachelor of Commerce in Digital Marketing at Fanshawe College and I am very proud to be a member of the Tanner Steffler Youth Advisory Council. I have been a part of the Huron County community for my whole life, participating in many sports and events along the way to overall grow and learn as an individual. My desire to be a part of this organization comes from not only my passion to help others but, also having a goal to be an advocate for young individuals with mental health. By being an advocate for mental health promotion, suicide prevention, LGBTQ+ youth and stigma reduction, I want to be able to encourage others to trust their worth by being a friend, voice, or ears. I hope that by having a position as Social Media Executive on the TSF YAC, I can provide peer-support and reach those who are also passionate about opening the discussion surrounding mental health.
Natalie Fear (she/her)
Co-Chair & Wellness Support Person
I joined the TSF YAC because I care immensely about youth in Huron County; we deserve to be heard, seen and cared for. Mental health and addiction services should be available and easily accessible no matter where people live. I hope that through the YAC we can share the youth perspective and reality of mental health and addiction struggles and spread information that decreases stigma and encourages positive conversations throughout our community.
Deidre Gerrits (she/her)
I am Deidre Gerrits (she/her) and I am on the council for the TFS YAC. I joined this committee to be involved in the community and hopefully help bring more awareness to mental health/ addiction in our area. I want those who may be struggling to know they are not alone and we are all here to help!
Becky Higgs (she/her)
Wellness Support Person
Hi! My name is Becky Higgs. I want to first thank the team at the Tanner Steffler Foundation for all of the work they have done to ensure individuals facing Mental Health challenges know that they have resources and a constant support system here at TSF. And, for raising such important and inspiring conversations about Mental Health. I am so honoured to be a part of and to work alongside the wonderful team at TSF Youth Advisory Council.
I joined the TSF YAC to help provide support and care for youth ages that are facing mental health challenges. I want to help Youth ages understand the resources they have at all times and to endlessly ensure that they know they are never alone. I am currently pursuing a second degree in Psychology as I work towards pursuing my Masters in Counselling Psychology. I am extremely passionate and dedicated to investing more time in helping those that are facing Mental Health challenges, especially in rural areas such, as Huron County.
I am a heart to open up to, a shoulder to lean on and will provide knowledge on the communication of resources and support for youth ages.
Carson Hymers (he/him)
Hello, my name is Carson Hymers (him/he) and I am 20 years old. I am a Youth Advisor for the Tanner Steffler Foundation. I work at Bartliffs Bakery and Restaurant in Clinton where I also live at the moment. I decided to join the Youth Advisory Council because I felt that this group and the foundation it represents has an opportunity to make some change, in a county and its surrounding communities, that sometimes needs it, some fun facts about me are, I like sports, I enjoy walking my two dogs (oliver and lilah mae) and I like being active.
Skylarr MacDonald-Webster (she/her)
I joined TSF so that I can get better knowledge on the ongoing mental health problems teens are experiencing. Also, so that I can try my best to make sure no one else was put in the position I was in.
Teegan McGavin (she/her)
Social Media Executive
I joined the TSF YAC in hopes of raising awareness for mental health and substance use in not only Huron County but in all of Ontario. In Huron County, there is a stigma around mental health and substance use that is not often addressed. If the stigma is addressed, it is often joked about or very brief in nature. Due to the stigma in our area, many people go unnoticed and continue to struggle in silence or feel closed off from their community. With the help of this youth advisory council, I hope that we will be able to reach anyone that has been affected by mental health and substance use and provide them with any support they may need.
Kaylie Monden (she/her)
I joined TSF to get involved and create positive change in my community, and be an advocate for those struggling with mental illness and addictions!
Jenna Peck (she/her)
I joined the TSF YAC because I wanted to support those who are struggling with mental health or addictions and to help make a positive change in the community!
I study Kinesiology at Laurier University
I love to travel
I am passionate about helping others
Alison Snell (she/her)
Hello, My name is Alison Snell, my pronouns are she/her and I am one of the Co-Chairs on the Tanner Steffler Youth Council. I joined this council so I could bring my voice and ideas into our community. Mental health affects everyone of all ages and genders. I have experienced and seen people close to me deal with mental health and addiction, which is why I want to help create change by giving youth the voice they need. When dealing with my experience I was grateful for all the support and resources, and I want to be able to give other people struggling the same things. My goal is to come up with ideas with our council to help support youth in our community through the difficult times of growing up. Our council is made up of very passionate people and I know we have a lot of exciting things ahead!
Charlee Steffler (she/her)
I joined the youth council to be more involved in my family’s foundation and be an advocate for youth struggling with mental health and addiction.
Emily Upshall (she/her)
I joined the TSF YAC to end the stigma around mental health and drug addictions and to become a voice to those who need it.
Nicki Van Bakel (she/her)
Social Media Executive
I wanted to be a part of this to advocate for youth in my community who may be struggling with mental health or addictions. I am passionate about helping people and want to make a difference in any way that I can! By being on this council I hope to spread awareness about the Tanner Steffler Foundation and all the amazing things they do for our community. I hope to empower other people in the community to get involved and reduce the stigma around mental health and addiction struggles.
Shannon McGavin (she/her)
Shannon (she/her) is a system change leader who is dedicated to creating passionate, youth-focused teams, facilitating community partnerships, and leaping into complex, head-scratching transformative efforts. Driven by a commitment to social justice and deconstructing inequitable systems of service Shannon firmly believes in a human-centred approach to her work. Having worked to enhance outcomes for children, youth and their families in the field of education for over 20 years Shannon believes that working together at community, provincial/territorial, and national levels is instrumental in eliminating fragmentation even in her local rural areas. Through her own journey with mental health challenges and supporting those she cares about Shannon knows the benefit of designing solutions with those who use service. When Shannon isn’t hanging out on zoom with her amazing TSF Fam, and other fantastic community partners, she enjoys reading books that blow her mind, walking trails and learning and listening to her supportive partner and their three superhumans (aka young adults).
Rachel Robinson (she/her)
Peer Support Activation Specialist
Ali Wilson (she/her)
Youth Intake and Engagement Coordinator
As the Youth Intake and Engagement Coordinator, I facilitate and coordinate the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) in a virtual setting. My role also includes monitoring the intake phone for the My Journey Program where I coordinate youth and families to a Health Systems Navigator with the Huron Community Family Health Team.
In this position, I apply Anti-oppressive, Trauma Informed and Harm-Reduction approaches to ensure that TSF spaces are positive for youth to engage within and access. I am honoured to be a team member of TSF. I am passionate about understanding mental health and addictions through a social justice lens in that one’s social location impacts their holistic wellbeing relating to the Social Determinants of Health. This passion is deeply rooted and informed by my lived experiences and social work education. My goal in this position is to provide youth in our community a platform to share their knowledge, be autonomous of their recovery journey, as well as strengthen solidarity through resiliency empowerment.
Board of Directors
Kelly Austin (she/her)
As the Vice President, I guide the direction of the Tanner Steffler Foundation. My education as well as my personal and professional experience allow me to make a difference for myself and others. We all have mental health – we can and will do better for the youth of Huron County.
Shea Devore (she/her)
As treasurer, I record and report finances to the Board of Directors. Having graduated with a diploma in Child and Youth Care, I can use my education and professional experiences to help the Tanner Steffler Foundation understand child and/or youth needs.
Lorrie Goos (she/her)
I continue my support of TSF since as an educator I experience the struggle that students and families face on a daily basis with mental health dysregulation and substance use and misuse. Our children and their families in our communities deserve comprehensive support and treatment in timely manner with a compassionate delivery. On a personal side, my son and Tanner were very good friends and we continue to acknowledge the loss of a dear friend and the missed contributions Tanner would have made in our lives and communities. Our memories will continue to make us laugh and advocate for what is needed in our services.
Kim Hayter (she/her)
Phil Main (he/him)
Jeff McGavin (he/him)
Heather Steffler (she/her)
Director and Founder
John Steffler (he/him)
Board Chair and Founder