Spaces of Refuge

Supporting youth wellbeing through equitable and relatable online connection

Spaces of Refuge offers guiding principles and inspiring case studies for how to tap the power of diverse youth and digital networks to tackle the mental health equity crisis. The series is part of the Youth Connections for Wellbeing project at the Connected Learning Lab at UC Irvine.

Embedding Social Supports For Tween Online Wellbeing

Katie Salen Tekinbaş and Claire LaBeaux
“Think of Kid Club as training wheels for younger players to learn how to participate in digital social spaces,” said Mimi Ito, with whom I (Katie) co-founded the non-profit Connected Camps. Kid Club, our free moderated Minecraft server, was created as a safe, online space for kids ages 8-13 to hang out and play a favorite video game with their peers. We also saw it as an online platform that could tap into the power of near peer mentors to guide and support players’ social and emotional...

Creating Social Media Campaigns that Promote Awareness and Support Adolescents’ Mental Health

Katerina Schenke
In this unique moment, fears around screen time are fading (at least somewhat) and there may be unique opportunities to invest in supportive online spaces for young people. In this case study, we highlight an example of one such space of refuge—an Instagram account called Hi Anxiety. This social media campaign began prior to the pandemic as a series of videos interviewing celebrities about their own experiences with anxiety to help normalize mental health discussions amongst youth.

When the Clubhouse Doors Close: Discord Opens New Spaces to Create and Connect

Krithika Jagannath, Remy Cross, Katie Salen Tekinbas
The following case study explores key learnings from the design of the ListoAmerica Clubhouse Server on Discord. We describe how ListoAmerica mentors and members shaped the design of their Discord server, using it as a space for connection and community wellbeing.

Exploring Esports as Context to Support Youth Wellbeing

Katie Salen Tekinbaş, Jin Ha Lee
In this case study we will examine ways the Esports for Wellbeing program sought to support mental health and wellbeing for a group of vulnerable teenage players. A set of guiding principles highlighted in the Spaces of Refuge series serve as our north star. They include...

Connecting Bookworms Through Civic and Social-Emotional Learning

Claire LaBeaux
Novelly is a civic-minded book club for youth centered on a mobile reading app. The Novelly team curates a collection of stories centered on a social issue, embedding learning and interactivity in the stories to spark critical thinking and empathy. Youth read and discuss the stories, and journal their thoughts and impressions in the app. In this case study, we’ll share the story of how Novelly was started and developed, and describe how it exemplifies the four guiding principles of

Supporting Youth Wellbeing Through Equitable and Relatable Online Connection

Mizuko Ito, Candice Odgers, Katie Salen, Stephen Schueller, Tiera Tanksley
This post is the first in the Spaces of Refuge series from our Youth Connections for Wellbeing project that outlines an agenda, offers guiding principles, and provides case studies of how to tap youth agency and social and digital media to support mental health and wellbeing for vulnerable youth. This initial post summarizes the evidence for inequities and gaps in mental health supports and identifies opportunity areas for correcting these problems. It then lays out guiding principles for...

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