YouthWorx: First summer job and giving back to communities

YouthWorx: First summer job and giving back to communities

September 05, 2018

Fahad Abdulahi (left) and Chris Otchere (right), presented with the Youth Community Worker of the Year award, West Directorate, by YouthWorx Coordinator Mamawah Kaindaneh.

For many Toronto youth, summer is a great time to hang out with friends, attend their favourite camps, volunteer with a local organization and get work experience through a summer job. But not all young people have the opportunity to go to summer camp, volunteer or find a summer job.

The YouthWorx program aims to fill this gap for young people living in Toronto Community Housing communities. 

Since 2013, YouthWorx has hired tenants aged 14 to 29 each summer to do small-scale labour jobs in communities close to their homes. This has enabled the youth to gain summer work experience, build leadership skills and their resumes, and give back to the community.

Youth Community Workers at the YouthWorx wrap-up event.

Fahad Abdulahi is one of 150 Youth Community Workers and 23 Coordinators employed as part of this year’s YouthWorx program. He believes YouthWorx is good for young people because it helps change the narrative about youth living in Toronto Community Housing.

“There’s stigma around youth when they walk around in the community, some people think they are up to no good,” said Fahad. “With YouthWorx, people’s opinions start to shift when they see them do some great community work.”

Every weekday for two months, Fahad joined several other youth in his group to do cleanup work in assigned communities. In their distinctive YouthWorx yellow t-shirts, protective goggles and gloves, they picked up litter in common areas, cleaned garages and washed windows. 

Youth Community Worker Mohamed Ahmed cleaning an underground garage in a Toronto Community Housing apartment building.

“As the youth clean the buildings they see the positive impact of their contributions to their communities,” said Nadia Gouveia, Manager, Economic Development and Resident Employment.

The youth were joined by a mentor (a Community Services Coordinator) and building supervisors who guided them and provided insight into the work they do. It’s a perfect way to help the youth learn important job skills and for them to appreciate the work that Toronto Community Housing’s front-line team does every day to keep buildings and communities well-maintained for tenants to live in.

Jaleel Smith (2nd from left) received the Community Coordinator of the Year award. Also in the photo are (left to right) Angela Cooke, Vice President, Tenant and Community Services; Nadia Gouveia, Manager, Community and Economic Development; and Kathy Milsom, President and CEO, Toronto Community Housing.

In recognition of the impact of YouthWorx in Toronto Community Housing’s communities and the importance of keeping young people engaged during the summer, the City of Toronto plans to commit up to $1.75 million to fund an expanded YouthWorx program next year and into 2024.

Kathy Milsom, Toronto Community Housing’s President and CEO, welcomed the additional funding. 

“YouthWorx is a terrific program,” she said. “It gives youth the chance to form friendships, give back to their community in a meaningful way and learn important life skills that could help their personal development.” 

At an end-of-program event organized to recognize outstanding work by the youth, Milsom thanked the YouthWorx teams for helping to keep Toronto Community Housing’s buildings clean and safe for tenants. She also congratulated the youth for being excellent ambassadors of the program.  

Summer 2018 has truly been a special season for YouthWorx. With the support of Toronto Community Housing employees, the program employed the highest number of youth workers and coordinators since it was established in 2013.