It has been a challenge for many young people to find opportunities to get involved in their communities. However, a handful of students in Scarborough are working to change that.
The Ward 43 Youth Summit was held in the Scarborough Civic Centre on Jan. 28, led by Coun. Paul Ainslie. Students and youth workers spoke before various community services groups to present a new project called Victims Of Increasing Creative Elements.
”We wanted to try something different,” Ainslie said. “We’ve always done the traditional ‘here’s the service organization, here’s what we’re doing.’ It’s not always what youth want. So we thought we’d try a different process, with youth telling the service organizations ‘this is what we want.'”
VOICE was started last fall to raise awareness of the need for programs to be more accessible to youth, and to have their voices heard. Using a Powerpoint presentation, the committee discussed problems that youth typically face.
Josette Holness, a member of the summit and social worker in the community, emphasized that youth are not always willing to take part in community activities, often because there is a misunderstanding in communication.
“There’s a distrust in the sense that sometimes we’re there, and sometimes we’re not,” Holness said. “They’re not aware. As much as we think they are, they’re not … We have to address how we’re going to organize that.”
Some of the solutions raised included connecting youth with parents and bringing the various services and programs to become one resource. Tasia Castelle, a student at the summit, hoped that in the future more people would realize the problems in the community and take action.
”We want to get everyone aware and involved,” Castelle said. “We want to see more youth volunteering, not just for school, and have them get involved in more programs.”
Ainslie hopes that this project will set an example for other communities in the future. Referring to the students on the summit, Holness believed that they are the next best hope in bringing change.
”The message is starting to change a little bit,” Holness said. “I think we’re pushing youth now. They are the next generation that’s going to keep our community alive.”