A community health centre in Niagara Falls is one of several Niagara agencies that found a gap in the support of underserved queer/trans youth and filled it.
Queer Youth Collective is part of the youth programming provided by the Youth Outreach Program at Niagara Falls Community Health Centre (NFCHC). The team is currently operating on a $649,000 three-year Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) Grow Grant and actively working to secure permanent funding to continue programs and services. (For details about the grant, go here)
The Youth Outreach Team consists of three staff— Youth Program Lead (Nicole Soble), Youth Outreach Worker (Celeste Turner) and Youth Engagement Worker (Tom Andersen).
The team provides life skills and health promotion-based programming for youth ages 10-24. Programming focuses on recreation therapy, skill building and positive mental health strategies. Programs take place at the centre and also in partnership with other community members. Some of the programs offered include:
• Queer Youth Collective
• Art Journaling
• Prep to Plate and You’re the Chef (Cooking programs)
• Rent Smart
• Anger Solutions
• Mindfulness without Borders
• Day Camps/Sports Camp
• Road to Empowerment
• Youth Hot Topics (One-day specialty events)
The Youth Outreach Team seeks to improve opportunities for children, youth (10-24 years) and their families facing barriers to health and wellness, at no cost to clients. Services include life skills programs as well as one-on-one outreach appointments that help connect clients to community resources, advocate for needs, assist in the completion of forms and applications (including identification), and support children, youth and family members experiencing life challenges.
In the past two years, the team has served more than 900 youth.
QUEER YOUTH COLLECTIVE
The NFCHC Youth Team noticed they were encountering many Queer and Trans youth in the community, who were facing hardships and struggles that weren’t being specifically addressed in other programs. Serving the 2SLGBTQ+ community is something I, as a Youth Outreach Worker, has always been very passionate about, and with the support and approval of Youth Program Lead Nicole Soble, the first “LGBTQ+ Youth Group” was held in May 2018.
The group was for ages 14-19, which continued to take place every Monday evening. Anywhere from four to 12 participants participated each week.
Over time, the team felt it was missing pockets of youth outside of this age range, both younger and older. This past September, the group was rebranded to “Queer Youth Collective” and introduced a rotating age range: each month, the first and third Mondays are for youth ages 13-18, and the second and fourth Mondays are for youth ages 19-29. (If there is a fifth Monday, there is no group).
To date, more than 40 unique individuals have attended the group.
Queer Youth Collective is a group for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals and their allies to meet, socialize, gain support, participate in activities, and receive education on various topics. Activities vary from cooking, games, art projects, yoga, workshops, presentations, and more.
Community partners are sometimes asked to present on a topic to the youth—Positive Living Niagara recently presented on sexually transmitted blood-borne infections (STBBIs) and naloxone.
The team also occasionally hosts larger events for the Queer/Trans community, such as Open Mic Nights and Movie Matinees.
Youth have said that this group has helped them by allowing them to have social, face-to-face interactions with other queer/trans youth and by educating them on important topics such as STBBIs.
This group has also been the starting point for some youth to then be connected to NFCHC for primary care (doctor or nurse practitioner) as well as accessing our one-on-one outreach services for tasks such as accompaniment to appointments, changing sex designation on ID, legal name change, educating parents/families of youth, and more.
For more information about NFCHC, please go to the website at nfchc.ca/about
OUTniagara thanks everyone who braved the cold winter night on Monday, Jan. 20 to attend the OUT of the Blue meet-and-greet event for 2SLGBTQ partners and supporters. It was a wonderful night of information sharing, networking, and celebrating. We particularly thank Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey and Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend. Niagara-on-the-Lake Library served as the outstanding venue, and staff accommodated our every need and request.