North for Youth event set for Feb. 21

An “all-community conversation” focusing on improving prospects for youth in north Wellington is planned for next month.

Dubbed North For Youth, the event, coordinated by the North Wellington Coalition for Youth Resiliency, will be held on Feb. 21 at the Kenilworth Public School. Community youth resiliency worker Alison Vasey said the coalition, launched in October with the aid of a $216,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), is seeking input to assess resources available to youth in northern Wellington, as well as identify service gaps.

“We want to use this day to really hear the opinions and needs of those living in the community,” she told Minto council in a Jan. 20 presentation.  “We are bringing together the Town of Minto and the townships of Mapleton and Wellington North to start creating some key areas of focus around youth.”

Vasey said Kenilworth was chosen for the event, which runs from 9am to 3pm, due to its central location. North for Youth is open to youth from the community, as well as anyone who works with, volunteers for, interacts with, or cares about youth in North Wellington, she explained.

“We are working to create strong communities that are interested in youth engagement,” Vasey told council.

Vasey said a recent survey of 100 youth from Norwell District Secondary School revealed 23 per cent of respondents did not have a non-parent adult they felt they could go to for advice and support.

Thirty-three per cent of the youth polled felt they were “not valued” by adults in their community and 77% said “no” when asked if they did an hour of service work in their community each week. “This is a very basic amount of information but it makes it very clear to see there is a disconnect between our youth community and the community as a whole,” observed Vasey, adding the coalition needs the support of community leaders and councils in order to improve the situation. Council members were particularly concerned about the high number of youth who said they didn’t volunteer in their community.

Deputy mayor Ron Faulkner, chair of the 2006 International Plowing Match committee, suggested a means could be found to provide volunteer opportunities for youth at the county event.

Vasey agreed some youth don’t know where to find volunteer opportunities, especially if their families aren’t involved in local organizations.

“Often if they don’t have a community connection, then they don’t volunteer,” she said. However, she pointed out, “there are youth who volunteer and there are youth who do great work volunteering.”

Mayor George Bridge suggested the numbers might not change much if adults were polled instead of youth.

“There’s probably not 30% of adults who are volunteering,” said Bridge. Anyone interested in participating in North for Youth, which will be facilitated by Molly Ross of Bloom Solutions, can register online at Participants may also call Vasey at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 7603.