Youth Caught…Helping Others…Contributing to Community…Doing the Right Thing…

National Youth Week May 1 to 7:
Honour Their Involvement and the Good They Do Everyday

By Mary Tabak, Our Kids Network, Developmental Assets Manager

Our young people contribute so many great things to our lives and community. They are vibrant, passionate, hopeful, and committed to making the world a better place. Sensational headlines too often overshadow the everyday positive, courageous and caring behaviour of our youth.

National Youth Week is May 1 to7. It’s a perfect time to highlight and honour youth initiative and involvement. Recreation, drama, sport, dance, civic engagement, art, on the job, volunteerism, or leadership – every single day young people are engaged in positive and meaningful activities that benefit others.

They Could Have Kept Walking…

Last March, I was walking my dog on one of those cold days that was neither winter nor spring. Two teenagers along the trail with a shivering cat that had been out in the cold much too long. They asked me if I knew who owned the cat – I didn’t.  By the time my dog had calmed down after seeing the cat, these caring and responsible young people had already come up with an action plan. They decided to take the cat home to warm it up, put a picture of the cat and a phone number on flyers, and then post them around the neighbourhood. They also planned to knock on a few doors and call the Humane Society. Their enthusiasm and sincerity was heart-warming. I thanked them and acknowledged that many people would have just kept walking. 

Catch Them!

This week, and all year long, catch youth doing good. Catch them at home, in the neighbourhood or at the local mall. And when you’ve spotted them, reach out and let them know how impressed and inspired you are – and why. Once you start looking, you’ll be amazed at all the great things you’ll see. 

L to R: Teen volunteers at OKN’s Buskerfest event 2012. Connecting in the community. Youth volunteers at OKN’s Burlington Play Day 2018.

For inspiration, watch this video with real-life examples of youth in everyday situations behaving responsibly and sensitively, and often with humour

The Child and Youth Engagement section of the Asset-Building Toolkit has numerous ideas and resources to engage youth in your work and life.

Relationships Reno – Securing the Foundation

NEW and IMPROVED OKN Asset-Building Toolkit

By Mary Tabak, Our Kids Network Developmental Assets Manager

Every structure needs a strong foundation. The OKN Asset-Building Toolkit is constructed of valuable resources and information that have been used by Halton professionals for years in building Developmental Assets. They’ve also used the toolkit to help families build Family Assets. Important accomplishments, but we felt something was missing to make this work really concrete.

It was the Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework that steered us to a missing key ingredient – relationships. This important foundation focuses our attention on the central element of relationship building, which underpins the Developmental Assets and Family Assets work.

All Asset-Building in Halton is grounded in relationships. Relationships with each other, our children and youth, our families, and our communities, are the foundation of successful interactions, interventions, programs and outcomes. We can build assets more effectively and efficiently if we build meaningful relationships first. 

  • Josh Shipp, a teen expert with lived experience, supports this thinking in his story about the power of one relationship in his life.
  • Leaders can consider the preconditions necessary in organizations for relationships to thrive, and address barriers to building relationships by reviewing this summary from the Search Institute. 

These examples are just three of numerous new resources that have been added to the “relationships foundation” of the improved Asset-Building Toolkit. Watch for a highlighted NEW! as you tour the website.

Did you know use of the Asset-Building Toolkit is going up year after year? People in Halton, Canada and well beyond, are accessing and using this comprehensive resource that we built together. 

We know about the power of relationships in Halton. In the spirit of continuous improvement, this NEW and IMPROVED toolkit gives us even more tools, ideas and resources to elevate relationships in our work.

Take some time to explore our renovated Asset-Building Toolkit and discover how you can use it in your work today.   

Think about the Hearts of Our Children this Family Day, February 18

By Nikki Taylor, Senior Manager, Early Years and Family Supports, Oakville Parent-Child Centre

“Children must never work for our love; they must rest in it.”
Dr. Gordon Neufeld, Developmental Psychologist   

 

As a young child, I recollect watching my parents as they played, celebrated, and worked with friends and family. When I think back, I remember happy and joyful adults who enjoyed being together in the good times and bad. It provided me with a great sense of security, a belief that I could trust adults; that I belonged with them and they would take care of me. I was relaxed, knowing I was safe. In the words of Dr. Gordon Neufeld, I could “rest in the relationship”.  Security created a space where I felt protected from stresses in life and could focus my energy on the important things in childhood. My parents helped to keep my heart soft because they had soft hearts.

Interdependence is defined as “the state of being dependent upon one another”. Deep down we know that we are better together. We crave connection and belonging, yet are often confused by the dichotomy created by the commonly-held view that strength and competence require independence and self-sufficiency. If we believe this, we can resist connecting with others and receiving their support.  We can fear that trust and vulnerability might be judged and criticized. Over time, this fear can be too much and a “wall” grows to protect our hearts .

Nature has designed us to be interdependent and it is our deep, caring relationships that keep our hearts soft and vulnerable. Those of us who influence, teach and raise children require soft and vulnerable hearts to do the job well.  Brene Brown’s parenting manifesto PDF is one of my favorite parenting resources and speaks to the need to be vulnerable, authentic, make mistakes and love unconditionally.

I love a challenge and here is one for you.  On Family Day, this Monday, February 18, allow your children to experience a day where you have put away distractions and are focused on what really matters.

  • Let them feel what it is like to be truly seen.
  • Smile and say hello, even to strangers.
  • Let your guard down, put your phone down, and spend some time in the present moment.
  • Light up when they walk in the room.
  • When they look at you, make sure you are looking back at them with kind eyes and a soft heart.

The only thing that matters to them is knowing that they exist, that they are important, and are worthy of your time, attention and love. At the end of the day when it’s quiet – reflect. I suspect you may find more inner peace, less stress, and happier children. And I bet everyone will sleep more soundly…and little softer too.

Happy Family Day from my family to yours.

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”
Jane Howard, journalist    

 

Youth Activism in North Oakville Attracts Additional Funds to Expand OKN’s Halton Youth Initiative

By Siobhan Laverdiere, North Oakville Youth Initiative Project Coordinator

Over the past year and a half since the North Oakville Youth Development Council (NOYDC) started meeting, the young members have made great strides. They have raised awareness of the importance of valuing youth in the community. They have demonstrated the significance of meaningful and supportive relationships between youth and adults. And have advocated for providing safe spaces for youth to gather.

At the NOYDC, youth in grades 7 to 10 collaborate with adult allies from community organizations. They play an active role on the council; not only sharing their thoughts and ideas, but also guiding decision making to set and meet objectives.

It is because of this amazing, community-based youth activism, that Our Kids Network (OKN) recently received a three-year Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to expand the Halton Youth Initiative. This new funding will help to engage and involve more Halton youth in the North Oakville area and to broaden the scope of the initiative to Acton, Aldershot, and Milton through the OKN Community Hubs.

The Halton Youth Initiative Youth Asset-Builder, Lily Viggiano, and I will be working closely with all four communities to develop and support youth-led activities and provide opportunities for meaningful relationships with adult allies. Another important objective will be to ensure that youth have the experience of participating in positive change within their own neighbourhoods.

We’re very excited to be a part of raising in youth voice in each of these communities!

NOYDC Building on Success in 2019

In 2018 the NOYDC focussed on connecting and engaging the community and gathering information from youth on hangout spaces:

  • Youth Talks: Hear Us Out a youth-led event that provided the opportunity for youth to speak out and connect with adults.
  • North Oakville Youth Survey: 94 youth participated to provide the Town of Oakville with their ideas and suggestions on youth hangout spaces
  • Family & Youth Skate Night: This event promoted awareness about the importance of a caring neighbourhood for youth to thrive. The Oakville Beaver covered this event!

In 2019, the NOYDC plans to build on their past success and to continue work on their three key objectives:

  1. To advise on, and help to increase, more unstructured hangout space for North Oakville youth
  2. Build meaningful relationships between adults and youth, so youth can feel even more valued in our community
  3. Help to make youth more aware of resources in their community

For more information about the Halton Youth Initiative and the North Oakville Youth Development Committee visit Youth Voices Matter Community Initiative or contact Siobhan Laverdiere, North Oakville Youth Initiative Project Coordinator at siobhan@ourkidsnetwork.ca

 

We can Count on Each Other in 2019!

Worth repeating…

This blog was distributed as the year-end message to our network in December. We can’t say thanks enough so here it is again for anyone who missed it in their inbox!

By Beth Williams, Our Kids Network Communications Manager

Our Kids Network people are creating a hopeful future for Halton children and youth. In 2018 we saw steady progress and it’s clear in our many initiatives and activities that, as a network, we are more connected and aligned in our work. We are intentional when putting knowledge into practice, and we are seeing the results in our data, planning and action going forward.

Thank you for your contributions throughout 2018. As Our Kids Network, we have much to be proud of and we can count on each other continue to be as involved and committed in 2019 as we were in 2018!

2018 Highlights: Our Kids Network’s Committees and Community-based Groups

Acton Early Years 4th Annual Kindergarten Fun Fair at Prospect Park on Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Relationships Help Us Sink or Swim! Eastview PS student video on how relationships with family, friends and peers make a difference in their lives.

Data is Delicious! Rudy the turnip explains why it’s so important for community members to do surveys so children, youth and families can thrive.

Kids are Excited to Start School and to Connect, Play and Learn, Every Day! 1300 activity bags were given to new students at kindergarten and community events.

2015-2016 Tell Them From Me / OurSCHOOL surveys give us important knowledge about the wellbeing of children and youth in Halton. Elementary  Secondary

Youth Voices Matter! The North Oakville Youth Development Council (NOYDC), established by youth and aided by adult allies, engaged the community in creating positive change in the neighbourhood and beyond.

Asset-Builders Tell their Stories. Five Halton asset-builders tell their exceptional stories about what building assets means to them.

Learn much more about Our Kids Network on our website.