Bermout gives Gananoque teens a safe place to socialize for the fourth summer

Teens at Joel Stone Park enjoying Bermout drop-in activities. Photo via YMCA of Eastern Ontario.

Teens in the Gananoque area will again have a safe place to socialize this summer.

The YMCA of Eastern Ontario, Gananoque police and fire services, and RNJ Youth Services are bringing back the Bermout, a drop-in program for area teens.

According to a release from the YMCA, the program has operated over the past three summers with great success. The Bermout began in response to the voices of local youth who expressed their need for a safe place to socialize, and was originally offered two days a week. With the number of teens growing, this year’s program will be run five days a week from Mondays to Fridays, from noon to 6 p.m., the YMCA noted.

Gananoque Police reportedly see the new program as a positive response to what they have been hearing from youth.

“Through numerous consultations, youth have told us that they want a safe space to gather and that is what this initiative provides. We are pleased that the Town has recognized the voices of our teens and is playing an important role in making this a reality,” said Police Chief Scott Gee.

“The Y has been focussing on supporting youth through a number of programs like Teen Night, the After-school Teen Drop-in and academic suspension programs. We are delighted to have partnered with like-minded agencies to be able to bring this program to Gananoque,” said Rob Adams, CEO of YMCA of Eastern Ontario. “Funding from the United Way Leeds and Grenville and Gananoque town council make this program possible.”

According to the release, the mobile drop-in provides teens with access to free wi-fi, a safe space, and good food – things that teens have said are very important to them.

“We are happy to be partnering on this initiative,” said Rachel Burns, executive director of RNJ Youth Services. “This is a great thing for our youth and brings them much needed services. We’re looking forward to an exciting summer.”

In terms of funding, the United Way is providing $17,500 to this initiative and the Town of Gananoque is contributing $15,000. The YMCA said that Gananoque police and fire services are donating the use of the mobile command trailer for the drop-in space. The YMCA is providing $3,500 in-kind as a demonstration of its strong commitment to supporting teens with opportunities for healthy activities and positive social connections.

The Bermout begins the season on Tuesday, Jul. 2, 2024 at Joel Stone Park.

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