Top News

A roadshow to find solutions

Jill Doyle, director of programs with Choices for Youth, speaks to attendees at a meeting in St. Anthony, Sept. 11. Choices for Youth is touring across the province to address issues facing young people.
Jill Doyle, director of programs with Choices for Youth, speaks to attendees at a meeting in St. Anthony, Sept. 11. Choices for Youth is touring across the province to address issues facing young people.

NORTHERN PENINSULA, NL – Choices for Youth brought their organization to the Northern Peninsula last week, hoping to better understand the struggles of youth in the area.

Provincial expansion coordinator Joshua Smee and director of programs Jill Doyle have embarked on a roadshow for their program across the island. It’s an initial effort to expand Choices for Youth beyond its current sole location in St. John’s.
“We want to get a sense of what the issues for young people are, what their needs are, and what role we can play in different parts of the province,” said Smee.
Their first stop along the peninsula was a focus group session in Flower’s Cove with a group of around 40 youths. Smee says they came to get a personal perspective on problems young people identify amongst themselves and their peers.
One of the major challenges they noted was lack of services in many rural areas, particularly around health care.
“Doctors and health care providers not staying in the community is a major problem,” said Smee. “Those on-the-ground services are hard to find for many, we got that message loud and clear.”
In terms of addiction issues, Smee says alcohol abuse is what they had mostly been hearing, and that stigma around talking about mental health was still strong for many young people.
“It’s not a surprise, but it’s definitely a challenge,” he said.
Choices for Youth held an additional session in St. Anthony Sept. 11 with members of municipal politics, economic development organizations and people from the business sector. Smee says they like meeting with this variety of groups to get a wide-ranging conversation going.
Like many areas of the province, one thing Smee heard in St. Anthony is that homelessness in the area is rarely visible. The common form of homelessness is “couch surfing,” when one loses a residence and moves from place to place instead of living on the street.
While St. John’s is the primary source for the program’s efforts, Choices for Youth decided to branch outward to get a better sense of what struggling youth experience. Because many young people in St. John’s have moved there from rural Newfoundland and Labrador, Smee hopes this improves their work both across the island and back in St. John’s.
“With many coming to St. John’s, it can take a while to build up a trusting relationship with that change-over,” he said. “We realize it’s not always best to leave home and be cut off from their support networks and their families. That’s where this effort is really coming from.”
Choices for Youth plans to take their research from this tour and make announcements early next year as to where they will next focus their energy.

kyle.greenham@northernpen.ca    

Recent Stories