Deepening Partnerships through Co-Leadership: Integrating First Voice Perspectives into the Recreation for Mental Health (R4MH) Project
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With a common goal of increasing social inclusion through collaboration between the mental health and recreation sectors, the Recreation for Mental Health Project was a partnership between Dalhousie University, Recreation Nova Scotia, and the local Canadian Mental Health Association branch. AIMS: Central to this project was the meaningful involvement of individuals with First Voice perspectives-in this case, people with lived experience of mental health challenges. This paper describes key strategies used to privilege First Voice perspectives throughout this project. METHODS: The strategies included (a) advisory committee membership, (b) arts-based activities, (c) community-based research, and (d) co-leadership in project dissemination. FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION: Initial strategies related to the project's overall direction and research activities culminated in shared dissemination activities that fostered co-leadership. This co-leadership created the opportunity to intentionally discuss the challenges and facilitators of partnerships between people with First Voice experience and researchers throughout the project. SIGNIFICANCE: This intentional process of exploring multiple perspectives bridged notions of 'us' and 'them', cultivating a sense of solidarity across shared experiences of exclusion and agency. Key principles related to relationships, multiple identities, and power-sharing are synthesized.
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