Youth spaces: A SAFE PLACE FOR YOUTH TO LISTEN, LAUGH, LEARN
What are Youth Spaces? Based on a model pioneered by St. Stephen's Community House, Youth Spaces are a dedicated space designed to create a safe and welcoming environment for youth. They are programmed for youth interests including sports, arts and media, and leadership.
Funding Cuts! Two years in a row, cuts to the Youth Spaces were quietly hidden in the city budget. And both years we successfully fought the cumulative funding cuts of $0.958 million.
How did we respond?
- Built a coalition of community organizations, youth-serving agencies, and civic leaders to petition Toronto City Council
- Wrote letters to Council (see 2015, 2016)
- Gathered testimonials about the importance of Youth Spaces (see all testimonials at the bottom of the page)
- Deputations and one-on-one meetings with Councillors
- Social media campaign about the importance of #YouthSpaces
Why is this important?
- Youth Spaces are a highly adaptable and proven model for improving youth outcomes by building life skills and pathways to employment through entrepreneurship, employment readiness, and continuing education.
- The placement of dedicated full-time staff at Youth Spaces resulted in the delivery of 7,629 additional youth program hours
- Youth-focused leisure and instructional programs can now be offered 6 to 7 days per week, year-round, facilitating 49,406 youth visits since 2014
- The community partnerships arising from the Youth Spaces has resulted in an additional 449 instructional hours & 2,272 visits in 2015 at no cost
to the Division
- More Youth Spaces Performance and Outcomes can be found summarized here in the 2016 Letter to Council, full report here
Map of All Toronto Youth Spaces
Below is a map of the Youth Spaces both existing and to be built across Toronto.
Further down are the exact coordinates for each site.
Youth Spaces opened in 2014
Rexdale: North Kipling Community Centre
Kingston-Galloway: Heron Park Community Centre
North York: Parkway Forest Community Centre
North York: Antibes Community Centre
YOUTH SPACES opened in 2015
Old Toronto: Native Family and Child Services
Scarborough: East Metro Youth Services
Scarborough: Don Montgomery Community Ctr
Upcoming Youth Spaces in 2016
Masaryk-Cowan Community Centre
York-South Weston: Centennial Recreation Centre West
Etobicoke Cluster Model at LAMP and RAY:
LAMP Community Health Centre, and Rathburn Area Youth (LAMP Satellite) at Burnhampthorpe Collegiate Institute
- “Youth Spaces not only provide safe spaces for youth, especially at-risk youth, but also provides a highly efficient way to provide targeted and concentrated services that these youth may need, whether it is educational supports, counseling, health care, employment/housing opportunities. Without the safe spaces, it will be more difficult for the youth to access this care, and more difficult for agencies to connect their services with this vulnerable, and sometimes hidden, at-risk population.” – Dr. Muna Chowdhury, MD, CCFP
- “Youth often do not access to traditional support systems or services because there can be many barriers such as having to be in a particular catchment area, needing parents’ permission for services, or to show a "need for service" financially, medically or otherwise. Moreover, these professionals may not be youth-focused and thus fail to understand where the youth are coming from. The Youth Spaces provide a safe and secure place for youth to overcome these barriers, develop their potential, and build their social capital.” – Terri-Lynn Langdon, MSW, RSW
- "Youth, youth workers, community organizations and groups have explained the need for dedicated, city-run youth spaces to City Council. City Council listened. New policies were proposed, debated, voted on and funded. What does it mean - what kind of message does it send about 'civic engagement' and 'engaging communities' - when these commitments are then quietly broken through a budget document?" – Community Recreation for All
- "One of the cornerstones of all that we do is the Youth Space that we operate in Westview Centennial. The 2011 Toronto District School Board Student Census found that while 88% of secondary students believe that their teachers want them to be successful, only 41% of secondary students said that they can go to a teacher for help with a problem. Having a Youth Space expands the range of caring adults that are available to them, as well as creates a hub for youth to youth mentorship. Slowing the plans for implementation of Youth Lounges means that neighbourhoods in need of these spaces and young people that are not having this need met, will have a great model that has already been delayed for too long, delayed even further." - Chris Penrose, Success Beyond Limits
- “It is undeniable that youth spaces offer young people the safety and freedom to explore, express, learn, and grow. From my experience, the benefits of investing in such spaces produces a return linked to the development of young people into healthy functioning adults in society.” – Femi James, The SPOT
- “Youth spaces are very instrumental in the growing community. Without these spaces youth will most likely fail to succeed, not only because of these space but the people who facilitate these spaces. The most important element in youth development is mentors and leaders, without that present, our youth will be easily influenced by their surroundings, which can lead to drugs and gun violence.” – Dwayne Holness, Driftwood Community Centre
- “Youth Spaces are important spaces which support the overall development of the youth population within this great city. It is important institutions, community organizations and youth allies stand in solidarity with young people and support in the development of their own spaces. Let’s invite the youth voice into urban planning and include their voices, wants and needs in the ongoing development and creation of this city. This will continue to make the City of Toronto a youthful innovative place to work, play and reside.” – Andrea Boucaud, Toronto Youth Equity Strategy – Community Panel Co-Chair
- “These youth spaces provide safe places for youth at risk of sexual violence, dating and domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence.” – Andrea Gunraj, METRAC
- “Providing safe community space for youth is an important piece of our efforts to enhance the learning and life skills of youth outside of the playing field.” – Jeff Carmichael, Toronto Sports Council
- “These youth spaces are critical to ensuring ample youth engagement in community activities and promotion of youth inclusion and community health. Without these safe spaces, youth become vulnerable to negligent behaviours and more susceptible to violence. Youth spaces provide youth with a safe place to learn and gain access to the various supports they need to thrive in society.” – Orville Wallace, Youth Justice Network of Toronto
- “Through my studies at Seneca College, I have developed an understanding for the need for positive youth oriented spaces. These spaces provide access to youth and social workers who can provide counselling services and offer connections to services the youth may not otherwise be aware of. By providing consistent support and a community environment, youth complaints and mischief in neighbourhoods could potentially decrease as youth are no longer trying to find space, but instead have an accessible and dedicated space to go." – Amy Ash, Social Service Worker Student, Seneca College
- “It is important to fund youth specific spaces, they not only provide safe space for young people and programming geared at them but also help young people feel ownership over their city and community. Young people who are involved in their community not only do better themselves but improve their communities. When it comes to at-risk youth of all varieties it is important to provide service specific to them because they often do not feel safe and comfortable accessing services geared at adults. Young people are not only the future of this city but also its present and it is imperative that we are cared for.” – Morgan Baskin