New Path Collaborates with Georgian College Design Students to Improve Waiting Rooms

With a mission to promote mental health and wellness for children, youth and families and their communities through an innovative multi-service approach, New Path Youth and Family Services continually provides opportunities for staff members to target their community engagement.

New Path’s Youth Engagement Committee is one illustration of a method to promote mental health and wellness for children, youth and families and their communities. This committee’s members wanted to offer welcoming and friendly waiting areas for youth in their facilities as identified by New Path’s young clientele themselves.

New Path staffer and Youth Engagement committee member Jenn Hansen suggested a connection with Georgian College’s Interior Decorating program. “Tapping into community resources, such as Georgian’s program could offer us some innovative ideas from a youthful perspective while engaging ‘experts’ in the process.”

Georgian’s School of Design and Visual Art facilitators seized the opportunity to incorporate New Path’s waiting room dilemma into the 2nd year Interior Decorating Studio curriculum using the Community Service Learning model (an educational approach integrating service in the community with intentional learning activities).

Five New Path offices jumped on board and decorating teams of four students were assigned to each facility. A site visit to view, measure and photograph the space and enlist client needs about functions, users and expectations initiated the process with the designs ‘unveiled’ four weeks later.

The ’experts’ came through with spectacular designs and a way to give back to their community while moving ahead with their own education. They listened to what clients had to say about the need for friendly, diverse, safe, accessible and inviting spaces. They researched design elements to fulfill these needs, and collaborated as a team to prepare and present the decorating package.

Student Laura Szusz felt that this community assignment was beneficial as it offered practical experience and skills. “We learned to work through the process together so that in the end there are little pieces of everyone’s ideas included. Designing for a client and producing a final product for a real situation was an invaluable learning opportunity!”

Interior Decorating Program Coordinator, Marlene Mitchelmore agrees that the opportunity to work with a community agency such as New Path helps to give back. “This Community Service Learning project has been a valuable experience for our Interior Decorating students and we truly appreciate the opportunity to connect with New Path all while supporting the student learning experience.”

The assignment that keeps on giving….Hearing about this project and inspired by the work that New Path Youth and Family Services carries out, first-year Interior Design student Kristine Chalmers wanted to help New Path’s Clients faced with mental health challenges by commissioning an encouraging and heartening art piece for the waiting area. Chalmers commissioned Fine Art student Dheeko Kinfe, who came highly recommended by his program co-ordinator, to complete the piece this term.

Kinfe pictured here in one of New Path’s waiting areas that will host his art and perhaps  help those that suffer from mental health issues, wears New Path’s ‘Help the 1 in 5’ t-shirt. Visit

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