Community tours future Youth Hub space
By Jenn Watt
Published Aug. 7, 2018
What had been an “amazing idea” to Joey, a 17-year-old organizer of the Haliburton Youth Hub, finally became real on Tuesday afternoon.
One of the young people working toward creating a space for youth in Haliburton, she said she was excited to see so many people come out for a special preview of the space on July 31, in the former Lighthouse Pentecostal Church on Dysart Avenue.
She said she’ll be volunteering with the hub and noted how special it was to be part of building something that will become an institution for years to come.
If the hub grows as much as its supporters hope, it may not be the church building that future generations use. Several mentions were made during speeches that one day they may need a bigger space.
But first there’s the short-term work ahead.
First up: make the space accessible. A chair lift is planned to overcome stairs in the front. The ramp may need to be adjusted to make the slope less steep. A universal washroom needs to be added.
Attendees to the ceremony on Tuesday could tour the space, which included bright signage that indicated what spaces were to become. A coat room to the right of the door was labelled “future welcome area.” A closet to the left read “future accessible restroom.” In the basement: “future quiet space.”
Marg Cox, executive director of Point in Time Centre for Children, Youth and Parents, welcomed the large audience to the space.
“We’re really excited today to welcome you to the site, which is going to be the Haliburton Youth Hub. You know they say it takes a village. In Haliburton, it takes a county,” she said, pointing out that parents, youth, politicians, service clubs and service agencies all came together to make the hub a reality.
Nearly $1 million over three years was secured from the provincial government and the Haliburton County Development Corporation added $33,000 of federal funds. It also lent the money to Point in Time for the purchase of the building.
Young people in Haliburton have been calling for a space outside of the schools that allows them to be together in a healthy environment. For those who don’t participate in sports, very little organized activity is available – particularly for teenagers.
Results of brainstorming sessions with young people about what they’d like to see were posted on the walls in the basement of the hub on Tuesday. Ideas for activities included cooking classes, a Youth Hub zine, open mic, arcade cabinet, yoga/meditation, dance classes, bring-your-dog day and movie night. Potential services identified in the brainstorming included homework help, free food, peer counselling, free haircuts, housing services, access to computers and the internet, career services and others.
The Haliburton hub is one of six in the province that received funding from Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario through the provincial government. Wellness hubs are for young people between 12 to 25 and include access to mental health services, addiction help, counselling and assistance with education, employment and housing.
Peter Smith, president of the Point in Time board, said the hub brings dreams to reality.
“If you imagine a place where youth are welcome to have a voice in its direction, challenges such as transportation are resolved. A place created with youth and for youth, with access to services such as education, employment, housing and health care all reside under the same roof. Well, imagine no more. Because that’s now a reality in our community,” he said.
MPP Laurie Scott brought a certificate congratulating the organizers on purchasing the hub and in her speech said the work was a testament to the power of collaboration.
“Haliburton is like a template for the rest of the province,” she said, “ I want to take what’s happening here and spread it out to the province.”
She said the group was headed in the right direction, doing the right things for the right reason.
County Warden Suzanne Partridge called the hub “amazing” and said she hoped the building “gets so well used and filled with people that you have to move to a bigger space.”
“All we need to do now is get a community transportation service in place so all the youth of Haliburton County [can get here],” she said, to wide applause.
Murray Fearrey, mayor of Dysart et al, called Marg Cox “one outstanding leader” and pointed out that the hub is close to the new skatepark as well as the arena.
HHHS is a co-lead on the project and board member Paul Morissette, a retired teacher from Haliburton, said the hub could fill a gap in service provision for youth on the older side of the spectrum, who often find supports drop off once they turn 18.
Because the young people involved today will eventually get older and no longer qualify to use the space, he told the audience it was important that new youth in their early teens are always welcomed.
Referencing a video made by Rowan Tofflemire featuring young people talking about the need for a space of their own, Morissette said the passion for the project needed to be sustained over time.
“The enthusiasm that you saw in the video, you have to carry it through. I think you really have to pass it on. Those of you who are 20, 21, 22, you have to be inclusive when young people come in and they’re 12, 13, 14, 15 that you make this place the most inclusive place in the county,” he said.
He said he hoped the hub eventually grew to the point where a bigger space was needed.
During the presentation, Pastor Doug Ross of the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church handed a ceremonial key to the building to some of the young people who were involved in making the hub happen.
“I’m so glad for the effort that you young people have made. I hope that you help each other out as well as we have to help people here in the last six years that we’ve been here,” he said.
Joey and Malia, Rowan Tofflemire as well as members of the band Wescali – Liam Bergman, Wesley Stoughton and Cam Espina – accepted the key as audience members eagerly snapped photos. The event was closed off with a performance by Wescali.
A date has not yet been set for the official opening of the hub, but Cox said she knew it needed to be open as soon as possible.
“One of the things we’ve heard loud and clear from the youth is we need this open now,” she said.