Jasmine, the co-founder of Grow Still and visionary, was inspired to start an emerging adult wellness program after a long and enlightening journey with her own mental, spiritual, and physical health.
Utilizing the foundations of various psychological, wellness and social transformation theories, she put together her own framework and began testing it out on a friend. Although she learnt many things, including that “Diversity” is a necessary and important dimension of identity, she experienced a few downfalls within the program. Through health-related trials and discouragement from certain members of her social network, she contemplated letting go of her dream. Upon return from an adventure out West, she found inspiration in a program called Jeunes Volontaires, a provincial bursary allowing young adults to work on a project, be it artistic or socially-inclined. A generous friend and donor helped keep the team afloat until the grant kicked in, but it was the beginning of Jeunes Volontaires that gave Grow Still the momentum it needed to get off the ground. The burst of financial freedom also attracted others who were interested in building the program.
This includes Vanessa, the other co-founder of Grow Still, and the bones of the operation. Vanessa heard about Grow through a project partner at school. The program piqued her interest and here’s why:
Vanessa has her own unique and inspiring story. At the age of 17, Vanessa ran away to avoid an unhealthy environment at home. She was placed in Youth Protection. Not getting much support from the system, eventually, as she puts it, she “fell through the cracks of society.” This meant that the system did not follow up to assure she had services and help in her transition from a 17-year-old in Youth Protection to an “adult.” After completing a degree in Nursing, Vanessa continued on to get her Undergraduate degree in the Specialization of Human Relations with a focus on youth work and community development. This opportunity gave her the knowledge and resources to create multiple programs. Vanessa created a program for “Aged-out” youth coming out of the system and this was noted by one of Vanessa’s teachers who was amazed at her binder full of workshops and programs. This led to Vanessa connecting with a Youth Protection organization where she was able to sell one of these programs. Her goal was to give youths the guidance that she never received that ultimately will support the development of their resilience and overall well-being. By the end of Vanessa’s undergraduate career, she had an extensive knowledge surrounding resilience, trauma-based approaches, dynamics of cognitive & psychosocial development, relationship styles, well-being, diversity awareness and much more which she brought to the core of Grow Still.
Cue Daniel, the mentor, co-founder, and adviser for Grow Still. Daniel met Jasmine through a friend who recognized that their similar interests, goals, and ideas could benefit from one another. Before Daniel knew about Grow Still, he had followed several self-development trainings and was interested in coaching within his professional context and externally. He had already successfully curated several community programs like “La Noche Tropical,” where singles come together to dance, “Contagious Happiness,” a website where people share things to increase their level of happiness, and finally, a series of workshops to help young adults find their passions and connect with others. Daniel’s inspiration to join Grow Still comes from the fact that he wanted to offer people the opportunity to have tools when they are still young adults so they can be happy and fulfilled, as he wished he would have as a young man. In a few words, he wants to pay it forward.
Each founder took a different path that led them to Grow Still. It is their diverse experiences that has facilitated the development of a program tailor-made to help others with their own journeys of self-love and self-discovery. Through mutual efforts the founders continue to develop Grow Still surrounding themselves with people who help strengthen the community and advance towards collective goals. Through their actions the team aims to: Advocate for the recognition of emerging adults by the government as a population in need of support Encourage people from diverse backgrounds to meet their highest potential despite societal barriers, Combat the growing suicide rate within the emerging adults population, Reduce stress and anxiety through Grow Still support strategies, Direct, people to relevant and helpful resources, Turn our website into an online resource, and Create a global community. There are many challenges emerging adults continue to face in society however the founders of Grow Still have helped initiate a process of collective healing and strength. After all, to heal our community and society at large we must first begin to heal ourselves.