Watching youth find their place in the world and anchor a sense of belonging with peers are rewarding sights for Katie Crowe.
She has witnessed these transformations happen over and over again. That doesn’t grow old.
DYS is an after-school drop-in centre for Peterborough youth aged 13-18 offered by the City of Peterborough. Through games, activities and socializing, young people find the space to be unique and safe.
“I see a lot of kids who are struggling at school with bullying and not fitting in,” Katie says.
“Many kids that feel like that. They come to the program and they have a connection. Now they have new friends and a circle of friends so they don’t feel alone anymore.”
There are a variety of ways youth become engaged in the activities offered at the DYS.
There are non-competitive sports on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the gym.
DYS has video-gaming stations, couches for lounging, air hockey, foosball, ping-pong and pool tables. There are board games and crafts.
Special guests offer on-site workshops on a range of subjects. Youth go bowling and to the movies and take part in seasonal activities in the community.
Katie has received phone calls from parents who wonder if their shy son or daughter will fit in with the other youth at DYS. Her answer is always a resounding yes.
“They come out of their shell and you see a huge change in them. That’s amazing to see.”
It’s also neat for Katie to witness youth growing up at the centre, as some teens attend for consecutive years. They can complete their volunteer hour high school diploma requirements at DYS. And, those who excel and have the desire, have gone on to be youth leaders in the program. “It’s a great opportunity to see them get a stepping stone.”
At 18, youth officially outgrow the program but some still drop in occasionally to touch base. “We call it our Downtown Youth Space family. They become part of the family.”
The DYS is open Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m.
The PCVS building is located across from city hall at McDonnel and Aylmer streets.
New youth are welcome and there’s no cost to participate.
Click here for more information.
Photos courtesy of Katie Crowe.
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