YCC Rewind 1x

YE01

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5 What the research tells us… Youth centres have unique roles within in their communities addressing the needs and challenges that youth must often confront. TYPS internal research to date demonstrates that attendance at youth centres reduces high-risk behaviours among at-risk youth. Youth Centres activities are extra-curricular, and offer youth an opportunity to increase their levels of engagement as citizens, and leads to overall strengthening of communities by providing them a safe inclusive place to access resources, develop skills, and make better choices for their future. Youth Centres are the prime facility of choice that youth voluntarily turn to when seeking advice and help in times of crisis. They also engage these at-risk youth - unlike youth councils within schools or within municipal- ities that are composed largely of youth who are already highly engaged; Melanie Bedore's research in 2007 of fifteen youth programs in South-Eastern Ontario noted: Youth drop-in centre participation may be a factor in increasing youths' feelings of empowerment, self-determination and heightened sense of initiative within their own communities. … Interviewees estimated that crime in their community had decreased since youths' participation in the drop-in program had increased… This qualitative study suggests that participation in youth programs can be a positive, protective factor in the lives of at- risk youth in at least two general ways: first, programming follows a social inclusion agenda that promotes personal development, civic responsibility and engagement, and other qualities that can lead to healthy, well-adjusted adults with high self-esteem. Second, positive interactions with a youth program can re- duce experimentation with risk behaviour, a symptom of social exclusion. 1 The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse recently reported: "We need to go beyond our traditional ways of dealing with youth who struggle." Provinces across Canada are increasingly recognizing how community youth centres serve a key role in bridging the "disconnect" between youth, at-risk youth, stakeholders, and their community. What the youth tell us… My name is Taylor and throughout my life I have been struggling with my sexual orientation. I was so afraid that if I told everyone who I really was and that I liked the same sex they would not be there for me anymore. I didn't know how to tell anyone and I didn't know what their reaction would be. I started going to the local youth center a while back and talking to the staff about how I felt. They helped me slowly open up to some of the people I was close to. When I first told a couple people it seemed pretty easy everyone was cool with it but then as I told more people I started to get negative feedback. After everyone knew I was bullied for a long time at school and out of school. I had family members disown me because of the way I am. It was hard to lose some important people in my life, and I wanted to resort to self-harm, I felt so alone and that nobody cared. I went back to the youth center and the staff at the youth center was there to help me once again. They explained to me that not everyone is always going to agree with the choices you make in life, but it doesn't matter if they are okay with it, it matters that you're happy with whom you are. I have been openly lesbian for almost 2 years now and I wouldn't have been able to do it without the youth centre and the caring staff that work there. They always supported me no matter what. Now that I am open, proud and out there about who I am I feel like people look up to me because I'm not afraid anymore. Once you get over the fear of people judging you, you will feel relieved because it shouldn't matter what others think of you. People judge all the time so why let that hold you back of being who you really are!! The day that I stopped caring about what people thought of me was one of the best days of my life because I could finally be true to who I am. VALUE OF YOUTH CENTRES Quote from 1 Melanie Bedore, Youth Programs in Canada: A Community-Based Strategy to Address Youth Social Exclusion and Risk Behaviour, The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, p. 94-95 Vol 2, N.4, 2007. The youth centre, even after just a week, becomes your second your family because we do everything a family does. Some days we argue, some days we can get on each other's nerves, but during the rough times we are always there for each other. There's nothing better than having the feeling of having a second family somewhere." 16 Year Old Female ___________________ "I know for a lot of students we look for acceptance and especially in the younger grades going into high school. No matter what age we are we are accepted here and become melded into a family and find friends despite what is happening in our life." 17 Year Old Female

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