ERIN MILLS YOUTH CENTRE
Erin Mills Youth Centre started as an outreach program of Erin Mills United Church in 1995, originally known as the Erin Mills Youth Outreach Program. The first activity was a summer drop-in for neighbourhood youth who were living in the area of Colonial Drive and the Collegeway and were experiencing financial challenges. Other community needs were identified and a daily hot breakfast and weekly homework clubs were added.
In 2006, members of the church formed an Advisory Committee and submitted an application to the Ontario Trillium Foundation to increase the capacity of the Youth Outreach Program to employ staff and provide ongoing youth programs. Erin Mills Youth Centre was incorporated in 2010 as an independent non-profit agency with registered charity status. Ever supportive, the church continues to provide low cost rent for administrative offices including access to janitorial services, internet connectivity, and access to meeting rooms.
One of the agency’s goals is to establish a physical youth drop-in centre. The Youth Centre, nevertheless, continues to provide programming for children and youth including breakfast and lunch programs, after school activities, summer camp, and supporting grass-roots community development initiatives in collaboration with other community partners.
Springfield Gardens Breakfast Club
Every school day over 40 children and youth start their day with a health and nutritious hot meal. A sack lunch is also provided to help students maintain the energy needed for school. Volunteers are needed to assist every day and commit for a two-hour period, from 6:45-8:45 am. Their responsibilities include serving, cleaning up, and supervising the children while they enjoy a satisfying meal.
After School Programs
Five different programs engage children and young teens during the hours immediately after school—hours that have been identified as critical to the development of healthy lifestyles and communities. Programs are currently located at Thorn Lodge Public School (co-ed program Monday-Thursday), Homelands Sr. Public School (co-ed program Monday-Wednesday), Christ the King Catholic Elementary School (Girls Club, Wednesday), and Springfield Gardens (Boyz Club, Thursday; “Art Burst” or “Keepin’ the Beat”, Friday). Volunteer opportunities focus include a three hour commitment from approximately 2:30-5:30 (depending on program) and include setting up, cleaning up, interacting with the children and youth, and as needed, presentations.
Each year EMYC partners with the City of Mississauga to engage twelve community youth in leadership development, volunteer and work opportunities. One result of this program was the inauguration of a drop-in basketball program that now runs Tuesday nights during the school year at Loyola Catholic Secondary School, averaging over 50 youth each week. EMYC hires some of the graduates to support after-school programs and the drop in.
The summer camp program is evolving at EMYC, returning to its roots with a focus on basketball and with a vision to one day also include skateboarding. The transition from a child-focused day camp to a sports-based community outreach camp is still in its developmental phases, and it is anticipated that a basketball camp will be in place by July, 2015.
EMYC partners with other community agencies to coordinate annual events such as a Costume Bash in October and a Seasonal Celebration in December.
To learn more about supporting or becoming involved with Erin Mills Youth Centre, please firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Darcy MacCallum, executive director, at 905-820-3577. Check out the web site at www.erinmillsyouthcentre.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram by searching ErinMillsYouth.