Youth in Gananoque will soon have a safe space to gather, thanks to a partnership between the YMCA of Eastern Ontario, the Town of Gananoque, the United Way, the Gananoque Police, and RNJ Youth Services.
Following the success of the teen program in operation at the Brockville YMCA, these local agencies have collaborated to deliver the mobile drop-in program over the summer, according to a release from the YMCA of Eastern Ontario.
“We are focussed on addressing gaps in services across our region and are excited about partnering with like-minded agencies to help people in our communities,” said Rob Adams, CEO, YMCA of Eastern Ontario. “We are pleased to be working alongside RNJ Youth Services and Gananoque Police and to have funding from the United Way Gananoque town council who see the value in supporting local youth.”
Gananoque Police see the new program as a positive response to what they have been hearing from youth. Police Chief Scott Gee said, “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.”
The mobile teen drop-in would provide teens with access to free wi-fi, a safe space and good food – things that teens have said are very important to them, according to the release. The mobile trailer will be used primarily for storage and as a location marker. The YMCA said there will be beach activities, snacks, crafts, etc. that teens can choose to participate in.
“We are happy to be partnering on this initiative,” said Sue Poldervaart, 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.”
The United Way is providing $10,000 to this initiative and the Town of Gananoque is matching this contribution. Gananoque police and fire services are donating use of the mobile command trailer to use as the drop-in space. The YMCA is covering the remaining budget of $5,000 as a demonstration of its strong commitment to supporting teens with opportunities for healthy activities and positive social connections, according to the release.
“United Way Leeds & Grenville is thrilled to support the youth in Gananoque. We have worked diligently with a number of stakeholders over the past several months to understand the needs of the youth in the community. Thank you to the YMCA Eastern Ontario for taking the lead on this important first step,” said Trish Buote, executive director, United Way Leeds & Grenville.
The program will launch the week of July 5 at Joel Stone Park (The Berm). COVID protocols will be in place.