Resource centre empowering Scarborough’s youth

Several years ago the Scarborough Town Centre was a hangout spot for young people. Scarborough Youth Resource Centre’s Nadia Harris says the mall was plagued with youth criminal activities.

“The centre is the solution to what some people thought was the problem,” she said.

The Scarborough Youth Resource Centre (SYRC), located at 300 Borough Dr., on the upper level of the mall, was donated by local government to Tropicana Community Services almost 18 years ago.

The SYRC provides programming that caters exclusively to the needs of Scarborough’s young people.

“Most people don’t know that we are here,” Harris said.

“Here the youth can express (themselves) in a positive manner.”

— Nadia Harris

There were incidents where young people expressed themselves through graffiti art in places that were illegal or without any permission, and end up getting trouble with the law.

“Here the youth can express (themselves) in a positive manner,” she said.

In addition to offering a creative outlet for youth, the Centre runs a number of programs that range from mentorship to assistance with job placements.

The Man Up and Sister 2 Sister programs are geared towards 12- to 16-year-old male and female adolescents, respectively. The programs generally address the mental development of adolescence, Harris said.

Shavelle Campbell, 16 and a new youth leader at the program, says she is happy she came to the Sister 2 Sister program last year with her friends.

“I noticed that this program has much more to offer me,” she said. “I kept coming.”

Young people are continuously empowered and SYRC participants are encouraged to express themselves in leadership roles.

“I realized that I could do more,” Campbell added. “This year I become a youth leader.”

In her new role, Campbell interacts with many of the youths in the programs, sharing what she has learned.

Ahkielah Smith-Palmer, 16, is new to the Centre and the Sister 2 Sister program. She says she has gained a new perspective on life.

“Just because I’m a girl it doesn’t mean that I can’t become anybody that I want to be,” she said.

Campbell emphasizes that she has a better understanding of life and what she needs to do to be successful. She places a greater emphasis on her studies.

“This program lets me see that there are trials and it’s up to you to build yourself up,” she said.

Smith-Palmer agrees.

“I’ve gotten a different view,” she said. “It’s all up to me. I know that now.”