Foundation for Youth Support
For the Youth Support Program to function maximally, it has to go out of the schools and into the community. This takes funding and that’s where the Foundation comes into use.
Shortly after the inception of Youth Support, the need for extra-curricular activities for the adolescents involved became apparent. The Foundation was formed, with membership from concerned citizens with an interest in youth. The Foundation needs to be set up as an incorporated not for profit charity governed by a Board of Directors.
To be most efficient, we’ve found that we need representation from the many facets of the surrounding community. It’s practical to have representatives from the school board, local policing forces, clergy, parents, merchants, mental health, family-oriented organizations, and especially representation on the Board of teens themselves. Without direct input from teens themselves, the Board cannot offer programs with the most potential.
The Foundation’s purpose is to:
Over the last few years we’ve discovered that the direct involvement of Board members with the teens has its own rewards and benefits. For the Board members, it puts a ‘face’ to whom we’re helping. To the teens, they meet new role models and through this interaction, a mentorship program evolved.
The Foundation also performs a very vital role in offering services, activities and alternatives to youth throughout the three summer months. School is out and one-on-one counseling is not as readily available to the youth as it is when the schools have counsellors on-site. It also extends the sense of family that most of the youth have developed with the others throughout the year through the summertime period.
Keeping it Fun!
A high school student created the logo above two years ago. The Foundation held a competition to create a logo in the elementary, junior and senior high schools of our area. There were more than 150 entries.
Youth Support started 15 years ago when four teens were arrested for possession of drugs in the parking lot of Parkview Education Centre in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. At the time, there wasn’t anything for teens in this situation, outside of being criminally charged and, from a legal point of view, dealing with the consequences of their actions.
After fifteen years and approximately 1400 teens, Youth Support in Nova Scotia has become a role model to other parts of Canada.
Counselling by itself doesn’t help fill the void of after school and weekend free time. Many of the youth we work with feel they are not part of the mainstream school crowd and the ones that attend group meetings make a ‘clique’ of their own. Youth involved in special projects become an extended family.
Every year we have recreational activities such as canoeing and kayaking, beach days and beach ‘sweeps’ (contests to see who can collect the most garbage off a beach), weekend retreats, whale watching, fishing, and other boating excursions. We’ve had occasional forays into the nearest city (Halifax) to special events (i.e.: Tallships2000 Parade of Sail and the Sportsplex for swimming).
There are two annual events held for the youth. One is an annual picnic where all Youth Supporters, their closest friends, family members, and Foundation Board of Directors are invited. The second event is an awards ceremony. These awards are for Youth Supporters who have shown progress in their recovery, participation in Foundation programs and/or in how they got along in school the previous year. This is sponsored by the Foundation, and awards are also given to organizations and members of the community who have shown support to Youth Support. In years past it has been held at Province House and the past three years we have held it at White Point Beach Resort in Queens County so it is also a recreational outing.
We feel that it’s important for the youth in recovery to also be involved in the community at large. Volunteering is encouraged (i.e.: animal shelters, church and school groups). This sets a pattern that hopefully follows them into adult life. If the Youth Supporter wants to join a sports team, have a tutor or participate in workshops outside of Youth Support and cannot afford costs incurred, the Foundation pays. During the summer of 2000, the Foundation sponsored four Youth Supporters to attend a week at a leadership training camp.
After talking in the group about Hurricane Mitch that hit Central America three years ago, Youth Supporters agreed on adopting their own charity. Casa Alianza (Covenant House) in Teguchigalpa, Honduras was picked. Their organization works with street kids in urban areas of Central America, and Youth Supporters thought it was a great idea to aid kids that were less fortunate than they. Three tons of summer clothes and plush toys were collected, and with participation of local elementary school children dressed as angels, went Christmas caroling door to door. This event raised $1,300 dollars for direct aid to street youth.
The Foundation, being a not for profit charity, depends on fundraising to support these extra – curricular activities, and the youth are encouraged to participate in fundraisers and to organize and hold some on their own (with supervision).
The project has had success in team building with the youth involved, and each year has seen 40 plus youth working there. They successfully have built a 60-foot long greenhouse from the ground up and installed an irrigation system, which transports water to the fields and greenhouse. Another greenhouse was taken apart and transported 60 kilometers to the farm.
This all may sound like drudgery and manual labour, but it hasn’t been. Gardening and working outdoors has a very therapeutic and healing quality. Working side-by-side on your knees while weeding gives one a great opportunity to get to know the person next to you! Any personality conflicts can usually be resolved over a meal or relaxing at the beach, which is frequently done during summer months. Delegating chores gives each one a responsibility that they usually take great pride in.
Youth Support – an Overview
The Youth Support Program of Lunenburg and Queens Counties (Nova Scotia) is a substance misuse treatment service for adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19.
It began in 1986 with four persons who were referrals to adult treatment services as a result of being apprehended in a police action. Very quickly, it became apparent that there was a need for services for the adolescent population and a pilot program was begun at Parkview Education Centre in Bridgewater.
The primary aim of the program is to provide treatment services at a location both natural and assessable, hence a school - based service.
Early in the history of Youth Support, it became clear that young persons involved in substance misuse found it easier to discuss their situation with someone their own age and a peer counselor training project was begun. It provides peer support for those in early recovery and, combined with professional counseling, the client is directed toward a pattern of living without mood – altering substances.
At present, Youth Support is available in thirteen junior and senior high schools in Lunenburg and Queens Counties. The service has grown steadily and in the 1998/99 school years, 230 persons were involved, supported by two full - time and one part – time staff persons.
Youth Support as it now exists, provides the following services: