Childhood obesity, youth unemployment, low-income prevalence, a weak sense of social belonging...there are a lot of challenges facing today's young people, especially those from underserved communities. All of this can make it hard to envision better days ahead.
But despite the challenges, we know youth have the potential to make a better future for themselves, their communities, and for Canada.
Here are some of the ways YMCAs across Canada are giving youth the opportunity to discover how awesome they really are:
The real-world version of social networking! Nothing has quite the impact on teens today than the relationships they have with their friends. We encourage positive connections by providing places where youth can get together, do the things they like, and take part in healthy, productive activities.
Youth Leadership Development
With a little nudge in the right direction towards the right opportunities, we can help youth find and use their voice to share their ideas and thoughts on how to build a healthier community. Many local Ys offer YMCA Youth Leadership Programs, youth leadership camps, volunteer opportunities, and more to help youth step up in their communities.
YMCA Summer Works Student Exchange
This six-week program lets youth who are 16 and 17 years old improve their second official language skills and gain important employment experience through a work placement while on their exchange.
YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada
Youth Exchanges Canada gives groups of 10 to 30 participants between the ages of 12 and 17 the opportunity to initiate community service projects, live in another community, learn Canada's other official language, or explore Canada's cultural diversity. Participants are twinned with same-age groups from another province or territory, and they take turns staying in each other's communities for at least five days.
YMCA Alternative Suspension
YMCA Alternative Suspension was created in response to a request from a high school concerned that its suspended students were spending their time on the streets without any supervision. This kind of suspension proved to be counter-productive, putting students at greater risk of repeat suspensions, of having contact with the juvenile justice system, and ultimately dropping out of school.
YMCA Alternative Suspension offers young people an opportunity to turn their suspension into a positive experience that prepares for their eventual reintegration into social and academic life.
To learn more about youth engagement programs near you, visit your local YMCA’s website for more information.