Recently I had the pleasure of running a Vision Board Workshop with some of the staff and volunteers at Youth Diversion in Kingston, Ontario. I especially enjoyed this workshop because all the participants really got into the creative aspect of thinking about what they want to “be, do and have” in the coming months.
I was also inspired to learn more about Youth Diversion and the great work that they do. Youth Diversion is a nonprofit organization with a clear and inspiring core purpose – to help youth overcome challenges. This help is provided through group programs, individual support, and counselling, depending on the needs and circumstances of the young person. The dedicated staff and volunteers work towards this core purpose through various programs and services, just a small selection of which include:
C.H.A.N.C.E. Mentoring -
Community Helping Adolescents Cope Effectively
Adult volunteers are matched with youth on a 1:1 basis, to establish a relationship based on mutual respect and trust – with the purpose of encouraging and guiding the positive development of the young person. Usually the mentor and mentee meet together weekly for a minimum period of 6 months. The goal is to provide positive opportunities and experiences to help the young person achieve greater success in school and life. While mentoring is not expected to provide solutions for all the myriad challenges of adolescence, what happens is that the mentoring relationship helps to increase self-esteem, provide new opportunities and new perspectives, and a chance to explore some different interests and activities.
Youth Outreach Worker Program
Through this program, staff and volunteers are active in the local community, providing information to help young people aged 12-21, and their families, to better connect with services that are available to assist them. Sometimes it can be challenging to know how to ask for help. The program is especially valuable for those young people who might otherwise not be aware of what services are available in their community – or know how to access them.
This is a program that helps youth age 12-17 develop social skills, self-esteem and a sense of personal responsibility. With extensive community support, the program has a huge, positive impact on the young people who participate. Over the course of ten weeks, topics covered include goal setting, decision making, teamwork, and exploring relationships and emotions. First established in Sarnia, Ontario in 1984, the program is well-designed and has been proven successful in improving the lives of countless youth in several different locations over many years. The program in Kingston was initially funded by a grant from the Trillium Foundation – however today community donations are largely responsible for its continued success.
As a nonprofit organization, Youth Diversion is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, and receives funding from United Way KFL&A – a long time supporter of the Mentoring and Rebound Program. Financial support also comes from community foundations, donations from corporate sponsors and individuals. The day-to-day work is carried out by a committed and highly qualified staff with expertise in the areas of restorative practices, youth engagement, youth justice, education, training, and addictions. Also there are a multitude of roles carried out by volunteers.
On a personal note, I’m glad to have had the chance to meet some of the people who make Youth Diversion such an inspiring organization – truly making a difference in the community!