More options than ever for youth at BGC Kawarthas

By Lindsay Advocate

The Youth Warehouse is a safe, welcoming place to go after school.

Amy Terrill, Executive Director, BGC Kawarthas

Lindsay and area families will soon notice a significant change at the Youth Warehouse, the dedicated space for young people in Grades 7 – 12 operated by BGC Kawarthas at its facility on Lindsay Street. With an historic investment by Kawartha Lakes in the 2024 operating budget, the warehouse drop-in will open its doors on Saturdays and through the summer.

What exactly is offered now, you might wonder? First and foremost, the Youth Warehouse is a safe, welcoming place to go after school. It’s been in operation for 10 years, but since our construction of a state-of-the-art skatepark, more youth have been drawn to its door.

On the surface, it’s a youth-friendly place where they can hang out, meet other kids, have a snack or a meal, participate in sports or fitness, or maybe explore some music programs. Underneath, it goes much deeper. Staff who are trained to identify kids’ needs are the backbone of the centre. They provide early intervention and prevention mental health supports, help young people hone their coping skills, learn the keys to positive relationships, better manage their behaviours and understand the dangers of substance use. Staff are experienced in life skill coaching – from nutrition and cooking, to wellness, to homework and career planning. When observing the unique needs of each young person, they help connect them to the right community services.

Just the other day, a grandmother told me that the Youth Warehouse has been life changing for her grandson who had been truly lost before it became part of his daily routine.

So, what is so important about the city’s investment? Without sustainable funding, warehouse drop-in programs have been constrained to five days per week, and only during the school year. Often, youth are most at risk on weekends and in the summer when they don’t have the routine of school. That’s when they need mentors most of all.

With a small operating grant from Kawartha Lakes, the Youth Warehouse will address this gap. The drop-in will be open on Saturdays and throughout the summer in 2024, bringing services here more in line with youth drop-in programs operated in our surrounding municipalities where programs often operate all year long in city-run facilities.

In years to come, with the support of the city and other local partners, it’s our hope that we can also grow youth services into some other centres in Kawartha Lakes to meet the expanding needs in our growing communities.

BGC Kawarthas is one of about 85 BGCs operating in over 600 communities in Canada. Locally, it started with the extraordinary vision of Ron Kennedy who established Kawartha Youth Incorporated in 1970. It’s evolved over the years, with many historic changes, to become what it is today: a full-service facility serving children and youth of all ages, which is the envy of other BGCs.

Municipalities including Peterborough, Orillia, Oshawa and Port Hope, operate their own youth drop-in centres. Here in Kawartha Lakes, BGC Kawarthas is proud to serve our community in this way and welcomes this historic municipal investment in our youth, who ultimately are the beneficiaries.

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