NDP Representatives appear at Amherstburg youth center

 

By Jolene Perron

The members of the House of Shalom Youth Center in Amherstburg were able to educate two members of the New Democratic Party this past weekend.

Monique Taylor, Member of Provincial Parliament for Hamilton Mountain Ontario, critic for Child and Youth Services, and Taras Natyshak Member of Provincial Parliament for Windsor Essex took a tour with current and past leaders at the HOS.

“I was told about this program and I thought wow what an initiative,” said Taylor. “ Over 40 years strong is amazing and we need to develop programs like this across the province, that is my goal.”

This is Taylor’s second interaction with a youth center. She said after being elected one year ago, she has a lot of learning ahead of her and “it’s time to branch out that learning curve to the next level.” Taylor also plans on traveling throughout Ontario.

“I’m excited to be able to go in to different communities, and to be welcomed like this,” said Taylor. “It’s the best thing I can do is to be there and listen.”

During their tour at the HOS, Holly Kirk McLean explained to the team what the HOS is about and how it helps the youth in the community. Kirk McLean said that they have 485 youth going in and out of the doors on a regular basis, to their weekly meetings and volunteering.

 

Monique Taylor speaks with Alex Gervais about his experience at the House of Shalom and the effects of the program.

The HOS hosts youth from grades eight through twelve. Their leaders range from High School graduates to well established adults, most of whom have been through the HOS themselves.

“The program is absolutely working, our numbers wouldn’t be where they’re at if it didn’t,” said Kirk McLean. “I’m glad to have anybody here to listen because not only do the kids need to know that they have a voice but they need to know that that voice is being heard and something’s being done about it. If we don’t support them now, we’re all in trouble down the road.”

Kirk McLean also said they have heard of members graduating High School with anywhere from 400 to 800 community service hours. She said the community involvement doesn’t stop there, and she hopes their members will continue involvement after they stop going to the HOS.

Natyshak was impressed with the work Kirk McLean and her partners have done in the community.

“We should support these types of initiatives and prioritise this proactive and holistic approach because it’s the one that works,” said Natyshak. “You’ve got a wonderful group of people, peer support, mentorship who continue to do that great work and it needs to be supported in all levels of government and throughout the broader community and that’s the message that we’re taking away here today as provincial representatives.”

Kirk McLean hopes this visit was able to show the government the ins and outs of the program and how important it is to the community.

“I think that the beautiful part about the program at The House of Shalom is that it’s been here for 42 years,” said Kirk McLean. “It is a testament to the program that was started, that it’s still relevant 42 years later to still meet the needs of the kids in 2012 is huge.”

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