Supporting Our Youth Cultivate. Create. Celebrate.


SOY H.E.A.T. brings together emerging youth leaders who are interested in social justice. Youth complete an intensive training program and then have the option of joining the H.E.A.T. speakers bureau.

SOY H.E.A.T. (Human Rights. Equity. Access. Team.) has been training and empowering queer and trans spectrum youth to be speakers, trainers, ambassadors and positive role models since fall 2010. Youth self-select and engage in an intensive 30-week training session that helps them to explore social justice issues and anti-oppressive practices. Youth drive the training curriculum and also help shape overall H.E.A.T. program through feedback and leadership opportunities, such as internships. Youth from previous sessions provide mentorship and help facilitate workshops and give presentations.

For the H.E.A.T. speakers bureau, youth are booked by other organizations for talks for a range of audiences. These talks highlight the challenges facing LGBTQ youth and their peers today, addressing what needs to change. Youth speakers gain experience on how to implement and support tangible initiatives to create safe, anti-oppressive and more welcoming environments for all youth. Speakers share their own personal experiences and knowledge of not only homophobia and transphobia but also of intersecting issues such as racism, ableism and other forms of oppression and discrimination.

There are currently around 30 active ‘graduated’ SOY H.E.A.T. youth and some of them have been around since the beginning! Youth speakers have given over 100 presentations to schools, colleges, employers and service-providers. They identify as queer and trans activists, ‘artivists’ and/or advocates, and many also volunteer, study or work in other roles that support the human rights initiatives and anti-oppressive practices within communities.

Applications for H.E.A.T. are available in the late summer of every year. Training sessions start in October.

About the Facilitators

John Caffery is a multidisciplinary artist and community worker who engages art in social change and works on creative responses to oppression. 

At Supporting Our Youth (SOY), John designed the program: H.E.A.T.(Human Rights Equity Access Team) to engage LGBTQ2S youth using arts-based methods to develop skills and opportunities that empower them to be active citizens and advocates for social justice.

John is currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Studies at York University to explore the intersections of Art & Activism within 2SLGBTQ communities and how to best engage youth in Social Justice.

Verlia Stephens

Bio coming soon.