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Choices for Youth holding sessions in Labrador

Choices for Youth provincial expansion co-ordinator, Joshua Smee, and Choices for Youth executive director Sheldon Pollett during a visit to Labrador in November 2017.
Choices for Youth provincial expansion co-ordinator, Joshua Smee, and Choices for Youth executive director Sheldon Pollett during a visit to Labrador in November 2017. - Submitted

Choices for Youth will be hosting consultation sessions in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador City and Nain in its effort to see more community-based services offered to vulnerable youth living outside the St. John’s area. 

The brainstorming sessions are part of CFY’s expansion of services and will include input from both professionals who work with youth as well as young people said CFY provincial expansion coordinator Joshua Smee.

Thus far, the organization has held consultations with hundreds of people throughout the province including various communities in Labrador.

CFY is a non-profit, charitable, St. John’s-based agency that provides housing and lifestyle development supports to at-risk youth.

The organization’s report titled “We Are Ready” looked at unique opportunities and challenges youth encounter in various regions of the province. It also identified common themes that were present throughout each region.

The themes cover everything from challenges with mental health and addictions, to a growing drug crisis; from gaps in rural-urban connections to limited emergency infrastructure for youth who need to access services.

Youth also spoke of the difficulty in finding safe places to spend time and to interact with their peers, Smee said.

One of the important issues for youth in Labrador as well as other areas, he said, is the importance of connection to the land.

“We’ve heard many positive things such as how attached young people are to their communities and getting out on the land. And we want to ask youth how we can make services work in that way for them,” Smee said.

As it sets its priorities for the future, CFY will decide where expansion is needed the most. The plan is to be active in six communities throughout the province within the next three years. That doesn’t mean there will be six CYF offices in various communities, Smee said, rather the consultations aim to offer integrated services delivery to include numerous youth-focused groups and organizations.

“People are talking a lot about bringing all the people who work with youth together in one space and working more closely together... We want to make sure this is done in a way that makes sense for each region.”

The session in Happy Valley-Goose Bay will begin at 3:30 pm on April 27 at the Labrador Friendship Centre. The session in Labrador City takes place at 3:30 pm on April 30 at Menihek High School while the session in Nain is scheduled for 6:30 pm on May 2 at the Nain Youth Centre.

All three get-togethers will explore which services could be integrated and how such a process could be undertaken, Smee said.

It’s important, he said, that youth who feel they need to reach out for help, know just where they can get that help.

It’s not always clear what door you should knock, he said.

Many people care and are anxious to offer support. The more service providers work together, Smee said, the easier it will be for youth to access the services they need.

“I think it’s really important to ask young people first... And then we’ll talk to the service providers to figure out how we can make it work.

CYF will host a provincial forum in June for all who have been involved in the consultation process. By year’s end, Smee said, firm details should be announced about how the organization will move forward with its expansion.

For more information on CFY visit www.choicesforyouth.ca

danette@nl.rogers.com

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