Today, Mayor John Tory announced the launch of the Toronto Youth Vaccine Engagement Strategy, a partnership between the City of Toronto and the Toronto Youth Cabinet (TYC). A part of City’s Vaccine Engagement and Mobilization Plan, the strategy sets out to prioritize youth-targeted equity engagement and mobilization actions and encourage and enable COVID-19 vaccine uptake among vulnerable youth. These efforts complement the SickKids/Toronto Public Health Youth Vaccine Strategy Playbook and will focus on youth living in communities that are disproportionally affected by COVID-19.
As the youth voice is essential to the strategy, a Toronto Youth Vaccination Advisory Committee (TYVAC) has been established to ensure engagement tactics focus on youth with a youth-friendly lens. The Co-Chairs of the Advisory Committee are Samir Janmohamed and Nada Dali, who also serve as the Transit Lead and Director of Policy and Advocacy of the TYC, respectively. The official youth advisory body to the City, the TYC promotes youth participation in municipal affairs and policy development and is made up of youth between the ages of 13 and 24 who live, work or study in Toronto.
The Advisory Committee will work directly with Toronto Public Health Youth Vaccine Leads, the City’s Community Vaccine Engagement Teams, the Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity, the Accessibility Vaccine Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines and other youth engagement groups to align and leverage opportunities to engage the City’s most vulnerable youth. The Advisory Committee, made up primarily of TYC members and other youth leads with diverse lived experiences, is working to develop its Terms of Reference.
The Toronto Youth Vaccine Engagement Strategy will be active from June to November 2021, at which time there will be a project evaluation and assessment report.
TYVAC Member Biographies
Born and raised in Tanzania, Samir came to Canada as an international student from Tanzania to pursue a degree in Economics and International Development Studies. Samir has been an advocate for affordable and accessible public transportation in Toronto, driving him to his current role as Transit Lead for the TYC. Outside of this role, Samir serves as an Ally on the Ontario Council for International Cooperation’s Youth Policy Hub. Through his full-time work, Samir has worked to build relations with numerous stakeholders and organizations across North York targeting youth and seniors. As Co-chair of TYVAC, Samir hopes to further engage with Toronto’s youth, ensuring they have all the information they need to keep them safe as we collectively work through the pandemic.
Nada Dali is a Master’s candidate in Health Policy at the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation, at the University of Toronto. As a graduate student at the Upstream Lab, she works on a number of projects related to collecting socio-demographic data and implementing social interventions within health settings. Nada currently serves as the Director of Policy & Advocacy for the TYC and is passionate about addressing the social determinants of health, health equity, sustainability and increasing community resilience.
Andrew is a Grade 12 student born and raised in Scarborough who is passionate about empowering youth across the province, while also studying the inner workings of our communities, starting right at home in Toronto. His ultimate goal is to be able to positively contribute to socio-economic policy from a youth perspective, especially related to the social determinants of health, with the mission of aiding marginalized people in his own community and on a broader scale as well. Andrew applies his interests as Digital Media Strategist with the TYC, and hopes to continue working toward his mission through TYVAC.
Stephen Mensah was born and raised in York South-Weston and has been an active member of the community. He is a Ryerson University student currently taking a double major in Criminology and Politics & Governance. He is on the Board of Directors at For Youth Initiative, serving as a Youth Director. Stephen also serves as the Executive Director for the TYC. Witnessing firsthand how marginalized groups experience systemic and social barriers, Stephen is committed to being an advocate for change.
Beles is a firm believer in getting youth voices heard through civic engagement and is passionate about advocating for Toronto’s marginalized populations. Her role within the TYC as the Director of Internal Affairs has allowed her to promote youth engagement through digital and in-person outreach strategies and supporting initiatives created for, by and with youth. As a Master’s student, Beles has been able to further expand on her knowledge of organizational and strategic communication within the public sector. She hopes to use her education and experiences towards her advocacy for marginalized communities and youth within the city.
Shahithya is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, pursuing a double major in Health Studies and Public Policy. Shahithya currently serves as the Urban Health Lead for the TYC. She is passionate about using interdisciplinary approaches to improve the overall well-being and quality of life for youth. She aspires to promote action on the social determinants of health and empower youth to advocate and voice their concerns.
Over the past several years, Ryon has worked with many not-for-profit and charitable organizations. Key for him is supporting our communities, from addressing homelessness, youth inclusion in sports and immigration policy reform. He lives by the motto, “leave the world better behind than when you found it”. As someone who was born and raised in Toronto, he feels a great obligation to help make this city the best and most accessible as possible. He presently serves as the Equity and Employment Lead Role for the TYC, helping to bring youth voices to the decision-making table in Toronto.
William is a Grade 11 student at Earl Haig Secondary School. Within his own school community, he has engaged youth via a dedicated COVID-19 vaccination registration portal and works to connect and empower his home community of Willowdale. He is currently the Director of Public Relations on the TYC, and also works for a local charity, NeighbourLink North York. He is deeply passionate about public transit and cycling, and he can be seen advocating strongly on these issues.
“Since the Province announced vaccine eligibility to those 12 and over, we’ve seen an impressive response to youth vaccination. But we know there are many young people in our city who don’t have the information and opportunities they need to protect themselves against COVID-19. The Toronto Youth Vaccine Engagement Strategy is an important partnership to help address this and ensure all young people and their families across our city will have access to the support and resources they need to access the vaccine.”
– Mayor John Tory
“Young people are critical in our efforts to get Toronto vaccinated and help to end this pandemic. Throughout our vaccination campaign, we’ve seen how important making connections on the ground is, and engaging with people where they live, work, and socialize. I want to thank the Toronto Youth Cabinet and all the members of the Toronto Youth Vaccination Advisory Committee who are helping drive this important work and making sure young people across our city have access to vaccination opportunities.”
– Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York), Chair of the Board of Health
“The Toronto Youth Cabinet has developed expertise in identifying challenges facing youth in the city today, and in engaging and supporting them. We know this knowledge and experience within our growing network of dedicated youth leaders will provide strong support in increasing vaccine uptake for vulnerable youth. We are proud to chair TYVAC to work with youth partners and our fellow youth to make this happen.”
-Samir Janmohamed and Nada Dali, Co-Chairs, Toronto Youth Vaccination Engagement Advisory, and Transit Lead and Director of Policy and Advocacy, Toronto Youth Cabinet
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