Here’s why your gift will make a huge difference.
A pressing concern has been identified within our country, a concern that directly relates to the well-being and mental health of young people. The recent findings from StatsCan's report, "You Are Not Alone," released on January 26, 2022, reveals a deeply concerning statistic: nearly one in four young people, between 15 and 24, consistently experience feelings of loneliness, reporting that they always or often feel isolated.
The report underlines that frequent feelings of loneliness are closely associated with poorer mental health outcomes and lower levels of life satisfaction among these young Canadians. Conversely, a strong sense of belonging and support from social connections can greatly enhance their overall happiness and well-being.
Developmental relationships are the roots of thriving and resilience for young people, regardless of their background or circumstances. According to the Search Institute's Developmental Relationship Framework (2020), through these relationships, young people discover who they are, cultivate abilities to shape their own lives, and learn how to engage with and contribute to the world around them. Ensuring that every young person experiences the developmental relationships they need is a vital challenge for the 21st century.
In light of these findings, YUE is committed to addressing this pressing issue. We have already been working diligently to support youth by providing safe spaces, adult mentorship, holistic care, and opportunities for youth to give back. We believe the foundation of this support is the relational strength our youth experience; positive relationships with peers, supportive adults, families, communities, and God.
Over the last 4 years, 65% of the impact statements we collected from youth attending YUE programs indicated a stronger sense of community and belonging. The most common used words included cared for, accepted, appreciated, and conveyed the idea of belonging through words like home, family and friendship.
Here is a small sample of these impact statements:
"This place feels like home, It's safe, fun and I feel heard”,
Female, age 17
"It's a home away from home. I feel welcomed. Accepted”
Male, age 17
"Youth Unlimited is somewhere that I actually feel safe and wanted. Even when home is not always a safe place, I know I can come here.”
Female, age 16
“I was able to bond with people over pool. It was a very welcoming experience and I love the friendships I’ve made through it.”
"[The Core has] stopped me from being alone and helped with my mental health”
"I don't think I have felt this loved in a long time, I love you guys”
Female, age 18
How important is this goal? Here is an exciting growth story about the power of relationships shared by one of our staff...
"Emma" first came to our drop-in centre about 6 months ago with her friend who invited her. She was very withdrawn, and didn’t say much to anyone, but she must have felt safe and welcome because she came back. And she didn’t just come back once, she has barely missed a drop-in since then, attending whether her friends came or not.
Emma connected really well with one of our volunteers over their love of crocheting, which has led her to pursue this passion even more outside of drop in, a hobby that contributes to positive mental health by engaging the hands and mind in creativity. As time has passed, she has developed new friendships and become much more open and confident to express herself, regularly sharing their thoughts and experiences in our group discussion times.
Fast forward to now, and Emma has joined our Young Leaders group and is exploring how to have a positive influence on those around them, is active in helping other youth experience belonging, volunteers every chance she gets, and is using her passion for crocheting to teach other youth to crochet toques to then donate to people in need this winter.
It is amazing to watch Emma thriving and exploring her potential, and all of this started with significant adult relationships that created a sense of belonging for this youth. It is also a reminder that youth are strong and resilient. They don’t need people to come and rescue them, teens need people who believe in them and give them space to be seen, to belong, to matter. That’s the type of support you can provide with a gift today.