YCC Magazine

Vol.3 Issue 1

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20 Put On Your Dancing Shoes D ancing is one of the latest crazes in the youth fitness world! Dancing can be used to improve physical and mental health, by acting as a form of exercise, socialization, relaxation, and it's just a lot of fun! The Rodney Youth Centre of Rodney, Ontario recognizes the benefits of hosting monthly dances for their local youth. Through community partnership, RYC has been pulling in youth from all over the surrounding area! One Friday out of every month, Rodney Youth Centre hosts a dance at the local community recreation centre; a space that is generously donated by their partners, The Municipality of West Elgin. From 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Elementary school youth can enjoy the lights and DJ, which is provided by a volunteer from the community! When the clock strikes 9:00 p.m, it's time for the Secondary school-aged youth to come out.They often take over the sound equipment until 11:00 p.m. Decorations are provided by a local mom who works with her friends and kids to turn the centre into a dance floor! Admission is always free and so is water and popcorn, but if the youth have a taste for some sweets, RYC also runs a concession where they sell pop, chips, and candy. Some young adults from the community, who are living with developmental disabilities, volunteer in the kitchen to make the concession possible. Getting the word out about the dances is also a community effort. Rodney Youth Centre was initiated by Calvary United Church and has many partners such as West Elgin Community Health Centre, Rodney Kiwanis, Oxford-Elgin Child and Youth Centre, the Municipality of West Elgin, and Quad County Support Services to name a few. All of these partners are involved in sharing the dances on social media and printing posters to display around town. The youth are also involved; as a few who have aspiring careers in advertising and graphic design have taken on communications and marketing for the dances! So how did all this start? Greg Simpson, the Minister of Calvary United Church, recognized a need for a safe space where youth can hang out and be themselves. Through conversations with youth and a survey sent out to the local Secondary school, RYC discovered a desire for social events, outdoor activities, and sports events. What better way for youth to socialize and get exercise than dance the night away! Greg works with a gentleman from his congregation to plan and execute the dances. So far, they have had a Back to School Dance, Halloween Dance, Christmas Semi-Formal, and Valentine's Dance! The benefits of RYC dances are truly showing. The youth have a safe space to connect with youth from different schools and get away from their screens for a while. They are also making connections with the people from the community that volunteer. Greg believes "having youth building healthy intergenerational relationships with people they are not related to is an important part of their development and helps them build a sense of belonging in the community." The dances also help the workers of the centre build relationships with the youth, discover their needs and desires, and connect them with the proper resources to fulfil those needs. In the future they plan to open a cafe and makerspace, using the partnerships they have already created through the dances and the support of youth. The Rodney Youth Centre is creating community connections and partnerships which will be the key to their success! "The future of the Rodney Youth Centre is bright and exciting. We have lots of hard work and great fun ahead of us, and will continue to serve and support the youth of Rodney." - Greg Simpson

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