The youth of any society constitute the promise of the future -- and many of our youth are in trouble. They are growing up in a divided society with ethnic, gender and political tensions at seemingly combustible proportions -- not just south of the border, but in Canada too.
Nothing suggested this person was dealing with serious issues: they wore the coolest new sneakers, played video games late into the night, and often would speak in a mix of Internet jargon and meme jokes. There was no way this youth could be homeless, I thought.
A few winters ago, I spent one extraordinary night wandering the streets of York Region, experiencing first-hand what homeless youth from our community go through every night. Organizers wanted us to better understand what homeless youth in York Region face every night.
In communities disproportionately affected by violence, targeted prevention programs and mental health supports have a more focused impact. Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada has adopted a proven gang prevention outreach program, but it requires renewed funding and support.
We tend to think of charities involving Africans in terms of us providing assistance to them, not the other way around. Yet here is a man who spent part of his childhood in an orphanage in war-torn Uganda, changing young lives on our streets with a message of hope that flows from one powerful realization: Someone values me. I am not alone.
There is a violent offender on the loose in Winnipeg -- and police are powerless to do anything about it. This individual has plagued the police and the community for years. He has not faced any consequences for his behaviour. Why? Because he is a 10-year-old boy, and under the law, he is too young to be charged.
Some 30,000 young Canadians ages 16 to 24 are homeless at any given time. If you're young and also dealing with abuse, addiction, a broken family or mental illness, finding your way is an immensely tough trek. Art is an accessible way to confront those seemingly impossible challenges.
I can't truly explain how exhausting, challenging and incredibly cold this night was. I had been given a real-life scenario of a homeless youth as a part of 360°kids' 360°Experience. Our experience had us stepping into the shoes of a 16-year-old male, who was unsafe at home and had to leave quickly to save himself.
I think a strategic approach to harm minimization needs to be the primary focus of a drug strategy in Canada. Not the typical harm minimization strategy, but rather one that focuses on building an innovative and integrated response that recognizes that the solution to addiction is as much or more about early intervention and combating the addiction directly. It is necessary to engage partners and service providers within the youth community if we hope to develop an innovative, enhanced education and prevention program targeted at youth in schools.
"By caring about something, even as simple as breakdancing, then a young person will start to see the relevance of things like school, work and their future."