New free program at Elora Centre for the Arts aims to empower youth

CENTRE WELLINGTON – Big Brother Big Sisters of Centre Wellington (BBBSCW) is not only colouring outside the lines; it is thinking “Beyond the Box”.

The agency has started a new program for youth aged 12 to 15 looking to have some fun with other youth in a welcoming and supportive environment.

Beyond the Box is offered at the BHive in Fergus, and mentoring coordinator Claudia Ferreira has just arranged for the program to run at the Elora Centre for the Arts as well, to ensure it is more accessible to youth in Elora.

“The Fergus program is at capacity, but there’s room in Elora,” Ferreira said in an interview.

She added the BHive was running two programs: Game On for boys aged 12 to 14, and Go Girl, for girls in the same age group.

“We found we were missing the inclusivity piece, something where they didn’t need to check off a box regarding gender,” Ferreira said.

“Beyond the Box is for all youth. They don’t have to check off any boxes.”

This program aims to empower all youth and works towards filling the gaps in services and resources for underrepresented youth in the community, such as 2SLGBTQIA+ youth by creating a safe space for the development of identity, social and emotional health, and confidence.

Under the guidance of two trained facilitators, youth will learn about allyship and how they can advocate for themselves as well their community.

The program in Elora begins on Feb. 3 and runs every Thursday from 6 to 7:30pm for seven weeks.

This program was made possible by the Centre Wellington Community Foundation, The Guelph Community Foundation and the Elora Centre for the Arts.

Ferreira said it is a pilot project and she’s looking forward to receiving feedback on how it can be improved.

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