Brantford, ON – At the Tuesday September 10th Committee of the Whole meeting, a staff report was provided to City Council with an overview of youth projects implemented over the past year in support of the Together for Youth Strategy, first launched in 2017 that outlines 23 goals to support youth outcomes and opportunities in the community.
Working with community partners to empower youth and to improve youth outcomes, achievements of the strategy to date include the implementation of Parker’s Project – a youth led initiative that addresses barriers experienced by pregnant and parenting youth and trains youth to be mentors to peers in the community.
Parker’s Project is unique in that while most youth programs are designed and delivered by community organizations, these programs are guided by youth themselves, with support from fifteen local youth serving agencies. Youth leaders identify their own priorities and plans for action, while partner agencies provide support through mentorship, subject matter expertise, data sharing, engagement strategies, and knowledge of local programing.
Additionally, Homeward Bound, a pilot program launched by Brant Skills Centre, supports single mothers in their transition from social assistance to full-time employment, through skills training, completion of post-secondary education, and employment counselling.
A series of initiatives to inspire and engage youth in the community were also implemented including, Higher Education for Youth Day (HEY Day), a collaboration with Brant Family and Children’s Services, Laurier University and the City that engaged 45 youth in priority neighbourhoods with the opportunity to explore Laurier classes and campus spaces to learn more about the post-secondary experience. The City also collaborated with Laurier on the successful Community Changemaker program in which Laurier faculty work with residents to create neighbourhood projects that support social inclusion, health and community safety. This year students are working to design a drug education campaign to inform youth on the impact of substance use.
“Supporting youth is essential to the well-being of our community,” said Sandy Jackson, General Manager of Community Programs, Parks and Recreation. “Our Youth Strategy is about connecting youth to supports they need, while also giving them opportunities to get actively involved in shaping programming that is specific to their needs. I’m so proud of the work of the Brant Youth Council, Parker’s Project, and Community Changemakers, all of which actively supports the City’s next generation of leaders.”
City staff, in partnership with the Family Counselling Centre of Brant and Contact Brant, also developed a Transitional Aged Youth Guide to support youth with developmental disabilities to transition from ‘child’ to ‘adult’ services, and to help families navigate transition planning. Woodview’s Youth Hub, located in Harmony Square and known as Woodview in the Square also launched this year to offer coordinated, youth friendly support and services from various partners, to ensure children, youth and families can access various mental health and support services in one location.
“It’s wonderful to see the community come together to support youth,” says Flora Ennis, Director of Services at Woodivew Mental Health and Autism Services, and Co-Chair of the Brantford-Brant Strategic Youth Leadership Table, “over the past few years, we’ve seen great programs and projects launch to help our local young people.”
The City of Brantford is recognized as a leader in innovative social planning. In 2017 the City was designated a Youth Friendly Community acknowledging our community ensures youth have access to a diversity of opportunities, including sport, recreation, arts, volunteerism, leadership development, and civic engagement. The City is also a two-time recipient of the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA) Local Champion Award that recognizes the joint development of programs, initiatives, and strategies that support the social and economic well-being of the community.