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October 2018


“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem’. Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”
 — Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers)
Hello, my name is Lynn Ryan Mackenzie. I am pleased and excited to join Child Development Institute as the new Chief Executive Officer.

Since my first day on October 1, I have had the pleasure of touring CDI’s service sites and witnessing our impactful programs in action. Along the way, I have had the opportunity to meet the compassionate and dedicated individuals who are on the ground delivering our services to over 4,000 children, youth and families across four streams of care.
With each passing day, the opportunity to contribute to a legacy of more than 100 years in advancing the happy, healthy development of future generations gives me great honour.

Whether you are a volunteer, a caregiver, a donor, staff member or advocate for children, I’d like to extend my gratitude for all that you do in ensuring that we make a measurable, lifelong impact on the mental health and well-being of those we serve.    

I look forward to working alongside you,




Quick Steps to Providing Validation
By Hayley Stinson, Child & Family Clinician, Child Development Institute

In response to your child or youth’s emotions:

  1. Attend to the child or youth’s emotional experience by approaching the situation calmly and acknowledging the presence of emotion.
  2. Label the emotion you are seeing. Labelling can help children learn how to put into words what they are experiencing and it may help the child recognize the feelings within their own body.
  3. Validate the emotional experience, which involves putting yourself in the child or youth’s shoes and conveying understanding of their experience. For example, “I can understand why you might feel frustrated because you have a math test tomorrow and it’s hard to remember all those formulas!”
  4. Provide support and problem solve once everyone is calm and regulated.

Related: Tip Sheet: 7 Tips for Caregivers on Supporting Children with Learning Disabilities and Anxiety at Home (PDF)

We are thrilled to announce a new mental health service available for infants, children, youth and families in Toronto, called MENTAL HEALTH T.O.: Access for Infants, Children, Youth & Families (MHTO). MHTO is a collaborative effort amongst 30-plus community-based mental health agencies in Toronto, which CDI is excited to be a part of.

MHTO is a free phone referral-based service to help connect infants, children, youth up to 18 years old and their families to mental health and addiction services in their community. Our goal is to help those in need find and get mental health help as efficiently and quickly as possible. Anyone under the age of 18 experiencing a mental health issue or anyone who wants to support someone under the age of 18 and wants access to mental health services can call the phoneline. MHTO then works with the person in need to determine the most suitable type of service and most appropriate community-based mental health agency. 

If you would like to access this service or know someone who could benefit from MHTO, please visit or call 1-866-585-MHTO (1-866-585-6486).


Meet Riley

Riley, a teenager living in Toronto with his mother, has learning disabilities as well as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and generalized anxiety.

Riley experienced a great deal of trauma at school, had difficulty with peers and had no friends to turn to for companionship. He was bullied physically and verbally. Understandably, Riley developed a “go-to” response of shutting down or getting out of uncomfortable or threatening situations. Sometimes Riley would respond with rage (throwing objects, yelling) and then become angry with himself for not being able to cope or having “meltdowns” in front of his peers.
For children and youth with complex challenges, Towhee provides a therapeutic environment where everyone feels acceptance and is encouraged to grow and gain the tools to build a brighter future. Towhee, at its core, is all about “challenge by choice”, which helps youth feel safe enough to take risks and experience success — often for the first time.

Riley has been able to attend Towhee for five summers through bursary support. With the help of Towhee counsellors, Riley was able to respond more mindfully to overwhelming experiences, fears and conflicts. He learned the phrase ‘I’m going to opt out of this for a minute’ when situations made him feel like shutting down, yelling, crying, or worse. Last year, Riley enrolled in the Towhee Leader in Training (LIT) program for the first time. He matured and transformed, taking on new challenges and added responsibilities. Riley was ready to develop new skills, ones he needed in order to return to stressful situations and find his way back in.
Learning Disabilities remain the most common form of disability experienced by Canadian children. Since its inception in 1968, Towhee continues to provide a successful and enriched learning experience for children and youth living with diagnosed learning disabilities complicated by mental health issues (LDMH).


Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) is excited to announce our 2018 line up of keynote speakers and workshops, including representatives from Think: Kids, CAMH, The Ontario Child Health Study, Lakehead University and more. This year's conference brings together innovators from across North America to share the latest discoveries, practices and ideas on improving service delivery of mental health care to infants, children and youth. We look for ward to seeing you there!
To view this year's program or to register click here


You can help a child feel included and understood – maybe for the first time. For $25 a month, your gift will help support the enrolment of a child or teen in our Integra Summer Residential Program, Towhee. At Towhee, children and youth experiencing mental health challenges complicated by their learning disabilities find belonging. Your donation makes the incredible gift of belonging possible.

Sign up to become a monthly donor today.


Child Development Institute is an accredited, multi-service children’s mental health organization in Toronto, providing a range of services to children and youth aged 18 and younger, and their families. CDI is committed to responding to the unique needs of our clients through continuous process improvement, research and training. We serve approximately 3,000 children, youth and families each year.

Our mission is to make measurable lifelong impact on the mental health and well-being of children, youth and their families. Our vision is to transform the lives of children, youth and their families by developing and delivering world class, innovative, evidence-based mental health programs.

To learn more about all our programs and services, visit our website at
Copyright 2018 Child Development Institute, All rights reserved.

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