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.

Neighbourhoods Can Help Kids Thrive!

Our Kids Network Neighbourhood Profiles and Municipal Data Available Now!

By Rebecca Abavi, Our Kids Network Research & Knowledge Broker Intern

Good neighbourhoods can help children thrive. Research tells us that in neighbourhoods where people get along, share values, and trust each other, youth have better mental health. And we know that neighbourhoods with lower social support and higher levels of poverty can negatively impact children’s development.

OKN Neighbourhood Map

 

 

It is because neighbourhoods can play such a key role in supporting positive development of children, that Our Kids Network (OKN) collects and shares data on child and youth outcomes at the neighbourhood level.

 

 

Our brand new Neighbourhood Profiles showcase data from six different sources: the Early Development Instrument, Education Quality and Accountability Office, IntelliHealth Ontario, Kindergarten Parent Survey, Statistics Canada Census, and Tell Them From Me Elementary School Survey. Together, this data provides a snapshot of how Halton children 0 to 12 years-old are doing at the neighbourhood level.

 

Image: families in neighbourhoods

The Profiles provide Halton-specific information, enabling professionals and agencies to identify areas of vulnerability and strength in this population of children. The neighbourhood data can reveal gaps in services, help to identify changes needed, and support the implementation of those changes, all at the local level.

The OKN Neighbourhood Profiles are complemented by municipal-level data from the Tell Them From Me Secondary School Survey, which provides information on the wellbeing of secondary school students in grades 9 to 12 in Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville.

Data becomes more meaningful when it is shared, debated and discussed. Use the OKN Neighbourhood Profiles and municipal data to create opportunities for discussion and collaboration with your colleagues and the community, and to better understand and respond to the needs of children and youth in Halton.

What is an Our Kids Network Neighbourhood?

Our Kids Network partners, researchers, and community professionals identified 27 different neighbourhoods for the purpose of collecting, analyzing and sharing important local research. The neighbourhoods’ borders reflect Statistics Canada census boundaries, and natural, transportation, municipal, regional boundaries.

 

References

Donnelly, L., McLanahan, S., Brooks-Gun, J., Garfinkel, I., Wagner, B.G., Jacobsen, W.C., Gold, S., & Gaydosh, L. (2016). Cohesive neighbourhoods where social expectations are shared may have positive impact on adolescent mental health. Health Affairs, 35(11).

Morrissey, T.W., & Vinopal, K.M. (2017). Neighbourhood poverty and children’s academic skills and behaviour in early elementary school. Journal of Marriage and Family, 80(1).

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

 

Spirit of Partnership Thrives at the OKN Milton Hub

By Our Kids Network Milton Hub Coordinator

 

Wonderful community partners have made the Milton Hub the success that it is today.

Partnerships are what make our outreach into the community work. The Milton Hub’s partners come from the social service sector, not-for-profit sector, the faith community, the Town of Milton, the Halton District School Board and the Halton Catholic District School Board. This amazing team of partners all share a strong interest in supporting the community and working together to better serve the children and families of Milton. This shared focus is what makes us a “backbone” community table.

Our team of Hub partners meet often to discuss programs that they themselves are running in support of the community, or to learn about programs run by other service providers. This way everyone is knowledgeable about all programs taking place in the community, so partners can better serve their cliental and avoid duplication.

A key aspect of our meetings is the resilient connections forged between agencies and partners that lead to further partnerships and potential programs. Our Kids Network and Halton agencies and organizations are unique in that a majority of agencies serving the community are so very willing to work together to identify issues. They plan and develop programs and then deliver them in unity. They are dedicated to working together rather than in their own individual funding silos. This makes for a better community for everyone – but most of all for our children, youth and families.

 

Crosstowne Community Church Building on Caring for the Milton Community

One of the Hub’s community partners is Crosstowne Community Church – a strong partner for many years. Each August, the Hub hosts a Backpack and Community BBQ program with Crosstowne, and this past August, we provided over fifty backpacks to children in need.

We’re excited about this November 10, when the Milton Hub will again host a winter clothing pop-up shop and coat drive in partnership with Crosstowne Church at “The Corner”, 100 Nipissing Rd., Unit 3. The focus of the pop-up and coat drive is newcomers to Milton and Canada, and community members accessing mental health support.

Image if kids enjoying winter

In the past two years, while the church organized the event, the Hub contributed its extensive community contact list to help spread the word and ensure the Hub team partner agencies let their clients know about the pop-up shop. As well, Hub partners, such as schools, helped acquire donations.

Last year’s events were well attended and many people in Milton were able to have and enjoy winter clothing that they are not able to afford.

This is only one wonderful example of the spirit of partnership at work in Milton!!Milton Hub Winter Clothing Pop up flyer