What do you do when you’re a teenager and school is over for the day? Hang out on the street or seek out a safe structured and stimulating environment? Seven Y centres in Montreal have a Youth Zone for youths aged 12 to 17 as an alternative to the street and loitering. Providing a valuable service in their communities, these meeting places offer rich, diversified programming in a structured, safe environment.
The Youth Zone is a place where young people come first and foremost to relax, meet friends, and get away from their daily routine. Programming may vary from centre to centre and can include recreational, sports, artistic and cultural activities as well as educational, prevention and personal development activities. Some centres also offer homework assistance programs. Themed outings are organized regularly with the Youth Zones at certain centres.
Youth zones offer rich, diversified programming combined with the organized structure teens require. This provides teens with an environment that fosters self-actualization, acquisition of social skills, promotion of respect for others, physical activity and learning of manual and artistic skills through courses adapted to their different needs.
Sheltered from the negative influences and tensions that could occur at home or on the street, Youth Zones provide young people with an opportunity to enter into contact with skilled youth workers who listen to their needs. In addition, they provide the kind of structured organization needed by youths who come from families that lack appropriate supervision.
Young people commonly turn to a youth worker or volunteer for help with personal problems. The Youth Zone offers front-line intervention in this area. When a problem requires a specialized intervention, the youth are referred to the appropriate external resource (CLSC, social workers, etc.).
The Youth Zone plays a key role in preventing isolation, delinquency and a sedentary lifestyle in teenagers. It encourages youth to develop social skills, and fosters leadership and peaceful conflict resolving skills. Above all, it is a valuable alternative to an unstructured lifestyle on the street.
For more information, contact your nearest Y centre.