It can be a scary world out there, especially for youth facing an uncertain future.
With that in mind the YWCA, with the support of several other community organizations, have helped create a Youth Summit, which is set to take place tomorrow at St. Dominic School in Bracebridge. The event is expected to draw some 120 youth in Grades 9 and 10 from across Muskoka’s four high schools, plus the Muskoka Alternate Education and Training Centres, Community Living, The Door in Huntsville and the Near North District School Board.
The idea for the Muskoka Youth Summit came about as the result of work done by a youth advisory group that was created with multiple youth-serving organizations and members from various local schools.
“We determined early on that this was going to be a working group, not just an opportunity to share and network,” says Kirsten Nicholson, who’s helping to organize the event for the YWCA. “Everyone was determined to make things happen. When YWCA Muskoka received a grant to run a youth summit, it was a perfect fit for this committee.”
Nicholson says they wanted to get the ideas for their focus right from the source so they distributed surveys to 250 youth to gain some perspective. The summit has been formed based on the responses from the survey.
“The biggest theme was they had a fear of the future,” says Nicholson. “Our keynote speaker is going to address that, along with many of the workshops. For example, there’s a workshop on financial literacy called money sense which will touch on that fear of not having enough money to go to school, to move out, etc.”
The day will begins with keynote speaker Blake Fly, a motivational speaker who travels all over Canada and the US to speak with high school and post-secondary aged students. His primary focus is on topics like transition, developing a positive reputation, quality vs. quantity of friendships, and how to ask for help without the fear of getting made fun of.
“We looked into quite a few different keynote speakers. The one things I liked right off the bat about Blake was that he made an effort to communicate with me directly versus through one of his managers,” says Nicholson. “I had mentioned we were working with a unique group of youth and wanted to make sure his speakings would be relatable for them. He made it a personal and invested experience from the start. He seems to just ‘get it’ for lack of better wording.”
Nicholson said hopefully the summit can serve to allay some of the fear that Muskoka youth are feeling about their future, and give them a sense of comfort going forward.