How the Emotional Culture Deck helped the youth leadership team from the CanTeen’s Hawkes Bay branch

Young people don’t expect to come face to face with cancer, but they do. Cancer is terrifying for anyone, but for a young person already dealing with what life is throwing at you, cancer – your own or that of a family member – is an unexpected curveball.  Dedicated to supporting young people 13-24 come to grips with the emotional and practical toll of cancer, CanTeen gets it.

Earlier this year during one of the Hawke’s Bay branch’s leadership meetings, CanTeen Youth Support Coordinator Kerrie Waby added an agenda item: How to help young people emotionally open and discuss what they felt when they were first diagnosed with cancer.

The opportunity to support CanTeen had come about after meeting with Anthony Gouder from the Hawkes Bay Regional Council during the previous month. Anthony had signed up to test one of our prototype tools – The Customer Experience Deck.

Anthony mentioned in our discussions that Canteen has helped him go through the loss of his father to cancer and his involvement with Kerrie and the Hawkes Bay branch to mentor and guide emotionally young people living with cancer in their lives. 

After using both The Customer Experience Deck and The Emotional Culture Deck at HBRC with his teams, Anthony spoke to Kerrie about using the deck as a practical tool to unlock conversations about emotions and the impact they have. The aim was to see how the deck can be a trigger for young people to become better leaders.

This is where the Emotional Culture Deck made its first appearance at the Hawkes Bay branch of CanTeen.

"The key feedback from the CanTeen leadership workshop attendees is the deck makes it easier to think about their emotions and be more aware of them"

I was simultaneously inspired and nervous that Anthony and Kerrie saw the potential benefits of using The Emotional Culture Deck with their youth leaders at CanTeen. I never imagined this little deck of empathy would or could help in such a meaningful way.

The response from the trial using The Emotional Culture Deck during CanTeen’s leadership workshop was overwhelming. Attendees have already come up with some amazing ideas on how they can help their peers feel more supported, brave, welcome, safe, open-minded and accepted when they join CanTeen.

We can figure out where they are with their journey with CanTeen."

It's been an honour to be involved in a small way with Anthony and CanTeen. I've witnessed first hand the way Anthony leads at HBRC: people first, then process, then solutions. It's the same when it comes to CanTeen: Anthony cares deeply about helping these young people.

In their own words…

Anthony explains that “I didn’t know quite what to expect when I took the deck to the CanTeen leadership group. But it was amazing. I was really surprised. Young people were so supportive of it. Using the cards promoted so much conversation."

“Unlocking people is the hardest part. The deck seems to be able to make that a bit easier. The key feedback from the CanTeen leadership workshop attendees is the deck makes it easier to think about their emotions and be more aware of them. They said sometimes they overthink these things and when the emotions and feelings are on the cards in front of them, it's easy to pick up quickly, decide, and then talk about them.”

Kerrie adds,We can figure out where they are with their journey with CanTeen. When they first walk through the door, their emotions will be very different than in three months’ time, six months and nine months’ time. Based on what we uncover by using the deck with them, we might be able to tailor specific support around what that person needs, quickly and more easily.”

What’s next?

We can’t imagine what might come next for The Emotional Culture Deck. But the uses for The Emotional Culture Deck keep expanding. Who knows what other organisations and leaders who work with young adults facing adversity might be able to use the deck for next. We’re excited to find out.