WAYVE was created in response to a gang and racially motivated murder of a Kitchener youth in 2001. Reeling from the shock of this violent incident, many community members came together to see what could be done to address the causes of violence among youth. This effort resulted in a program designed to support youth in working with their peers to eliminate violence and bullying in area schools, as bullying was identified as one of the major ways that youth experience violence.
WAYVE originally stood for Working Against Youth Violence Everywhere. However, over the past 15 years the program has grown and expanded and come to stand for more than a bullying prevention program. Youth who are involved in WAYVE are passionate about making their school and community more accepting. They want to talk about mental health and mental illness and want to work to reduce stereotypes. It’s because of this growth, along with feedback from youth and adult allies, that we are changing our name to Wellness Acceptance Youth Voice Empowerment. This new name captures what WAYVE does and what it stands for today.
This youth-based program features peer education activities and presentations in senior elementary schools, high schools and in the community. These activities and presentations focus on topics such as: bullying, mental health, youth suicide, relationship abuse, homophobia, racism and discrimination. WAYVE teams raise awareness of local resources and educate peers on these important topics.
WAYVE operates on the firm belief that youth need to be involved in the solution to addressing youth issues, because they are the ones directly involved. This program gives youth an opportunity to speak out and get involved in their school and community. WAYVE provides teens with the opportunity to make decisions, delegate, mentor, and motivate others, creating and developing leaders of tomorrow.