Shortly before we shuttered our doors for the lockdown, Why Not staff went into high gear to prepare for the possibility of being unable to see the youth face to face. Support for complex mental, emotional and physical needs could not stop during a global pandemic.
As you probably know, the support found at the Why Not Youth Centre is crucial in preventing youth problems from escalating into crisis. As such, we initiated CONNECTED, a messaging-based mentorship program. We matched volunteers with youth to provide support and connection. We do not doubt for a second that these mentorships literally saved lives.
Food security is another way in which youth are commonly supported through Why Not, as they rely on meals and our food cupboard to get by. During lockdown, dedicated volunteers known as the “QuaranTEAM” packed and delivered boxes with fresh, canned and frozen food weekly.
Outside of pandemic conditions, the youth centre is a fun place to meet up with friends and hang out. Our goal was to replicate this online, so we introduced online activities. These included games, movies, crafts and a popular cooking class in which youth learned to cook family meals such as chili and lasagna. Our COVID Contests gave youth a chance to showcase their talents.
Through these uncertain times, our youth have continued to be incredibly resilient and receptive to the change in our programs and new methods of outreach. We are blown away and so proud of every single one of our youth, volunteers and staff as we navigate these uncertain times together.