Less than 40 per cent of youth involved with Children’s Aid Societies graduate from high school and less than 15 per cent move on to post secondary learning.
“Peel Children’s Aid is dedicated to improving these statistics and making positive changes for youth involved with the agency,” says Nicole Bonnie, Senior Service Manager of Community Engagement and Partnerships. “One of the ways we do this is through The Village, a program for Black youth, which helps build a sense of community through connection, education and empowerment.”
Peel Children’s Aid makes it a priority to focus on the needs of racialized youth and families in care, while exploring ways to provide better support to them.
Established in 2009, The Village fills cultural gaps that exist for Black youth, between the ages of 16 and 21, who are residing in care of Peel Children’s Aid. Youth meet once a month with mentors – Peel Children’s Aid staff members – to explore topics such as Black youth identity, wellness and self care, police and youth relations and Caribbean and African history. This program allows Black youth to address issues directly linked to their experiences and gives them the necessary tools to build successful life skills.
Last summer, the youth explored their history through a field trip to Nova Scotia for a tour of the historical Africville. They learned about their African Canadian history.
“The most important life lesson that I learned was that I have a purpose…” said one teen.
“Many have changed their concepts and ideas of being an African-Canadian youth. There is a deeper understanding of themselves and increased civic engagement. Many of them have also begun to open up,” adds Bonnie. She thinks The Village, as a whole, has increased the self esteem of many of the youth.
When asked what The Village means to them, one teen responded passionately: “The Village is a place where people see me for who I am, but also push me to be more.”
Peel Children’s Aid protects children from abuse and neglect and helps parents and caregivers build healthy families.
In addition to protecting children, which the organization does, with the support of the Peel community, Peel Children’s Aid also works with families who may be facing challenges such as poverty, unemployment, ill health, domestic violence, mental health issues, or caring for a child who has serious physical, emotional or developmental difficulties.
“We are guardians for children or youth who cannot remain with their families, help create forever families through adoption, and help youth become independent and confident adults. “Embedded in our values, strategic directions and governance is our commitment to anti-oppressive practice and diversity competence.
“This commitment enables us to provide responsive and meaningful service to our ever-diversified, growing community.”
For more information, go to www.peelcas.org.