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smiling Youth Outreach WorkerYouth Outreach Workers like Stacy help young people access opportunities for personal growth

Linda was at her wits’ end. A young mother with a one-year old daughter, Linda was struggling with motherhood, the pandemic, and the loss of her father. She reached out to The Neighbourhood Group for support, and found the help she needed.

Provincial Youth Outreach Workers help young people like Linda. By working with schools, community housing, hospitals, primary and mental health care facilities and settlement services, YOWs help youth and their families access critical community supports, and engage young people in meaningful opportunities for change.

One of our newest YOWs, Stacy, knows very well what growing up without support can be like. “I grew up in a government-housing complex in east-end Toronto called Teesdale. Just like in Moss Park, St. James Town and Crescent Town, living there was tough. Most families are single-parent with a low-income, and struggle to get by with the skyrocketing cost of living. Many are also new to Canada. I saw the heartbreaking effect that life without resources, experiences and positive influences had on some of my childhood friends. With the constant presence of gangs, drugs and other harmful pressures, many of the kids I grew up with were heading for trouble. My mom worked hard to put me in after-school programs and summer camp at The Neighbourhood Group. That really changed my life.

“I saw how camp helps children to build confidence and resiliency and features invaluable mentorship and strong role models. For me, camp made me believe in myself. I knew that I could grow up to achieve anything!

“I was so inspired by the wonderful counsellors I looked up to that I now dedicate my time and energy to making a difference in the lives of young people facing systemic barriers. As a Youth Outreach Worker, I help youth with issues related to mental health, substance use, school, housing, employment and more.

“Part of my role is helping young people access the resources and experiences that many of my peers couldn’t. What guides me is the belief that young people are full of potential. I look at how far Linda has come, the sense of purpose she now has despite her challenges, and I know that with the right supports, opportunities and guidance, young people are capable of anything.”