YouthWorx creates opportunities for residents that keep on giving

YouthWorx creates opportunities for residents that keep on giving

September 01, 2015

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Four YouthWorx applicants after completing their interviews at the 2015 YouthWorx recruitment sessions in the west.

​​​More than 100 youth gathered in Regent Park to celebrate the final group session of YouthWorx, Toronto Community Housing’s summer youth employment program.

Through YouthWorx, Toronto Community Housing hired 115 residents (ages 14 to 29) in both entry level and supervisory positions for eight weeks in July and August. The youth performed various small-scale labour jobs, including community clean-ups, light repair jobs, community gardening, sign cleaning and painting.

The youth also benefited from attending a series of weekly training workshops on a variety of topics, including anger management, financial literacy skills, conflict resolution, de-escalation tactics, spirituality and self-awareness.

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Toronto Community Housing staff reviews resumes for youth at the Driftwood Community Job Fair, as part of YouthWorx pre-employment workshops.

Now in its third year, YouthWorx kicked off in May with seven pre-employment workshops to help prepare youth for summer employment. More than 200 youth attended these workshops, which were facilitated by community partners, including Atwell Community Services, The Career Foundation, WoodGreen Community Services, Youth Employment ​Services (YES) Toronto, and Toronto Police Service 31 Division. Workshops provided youth with training on resume writing, interview skills, and career hunting and also included a series of local job fairs.

“It was great to network on a one-on-one basis with employers and meet Toronto Community Housing staff who would actually be leading the YouthWorx program,” said Samantha, who attended a pre-employment workshop at Driftwood Community Centre.

Following the workshops, 522 youth were interviewed at three recruitment sessions across the city, which also featured career support services for all applicants.

More than a summer job

On August 26, 110 youth gathered in Regent Park for the final group training session of the program. Organized and led by YouthWorx participants, the day featured a series of presentations about their experiences and learnings from the program.

Interim President and CEO Greg Spearn thanked the participants and shared some of the positive feedback he received from residents, community partners and staff about the work they completed in communities over the summer.

Here’s what staff, residents and community partners had to say:

  • “I am very impressed with their hard work,” said a senior superintendent from a Toronto Community Housing operating unit in the west.
  • A resident from 1021 Birchmount Road also thanked YouthWorx employees for their work on the building’s community garden. “We couldn’t have done this without you and your team’s hard work, diligence, enthusiasm and dedication to the community.”
  • “They stayed focused and on task and only asked for guidance when needed. They came prepared to work and got the job done. They really exceeded our expectations,” said a community partner at Mornelle CAN Community Hub.

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Toronto Community Housing staff present an Outstanding Team Leadership award to a YouthWorx participant [From left to right: Building Community Facilitator Natisha, Interim President and CEO Greg Spearn, award recipient Jerome and Director of Resident Engagement and Community Development Simone Atungo].

At the finale event, 48 youth received awards for demonstrating good citizenship, collaboration, leadership and exceptional customer service over the eight-week program. Alumni from the 2014 YouthWorx program also attended the event and spoke about how the program benefited them.

“YouthWorx allowed me gain so much—friendships, financial stability and valuable life skills, and it didn’t stop when the program ended! The program has opened a lot of doors for me!” said Shamal, 15, a YouthWorx alumni and resident from the Esplanade. “After participating in YouthWorx, I was able to become a Youth Safety Ambassador with Toronto Community Housing, where I participated and helped out in workshops about gun safety, anti-oppression, mental health and wellness. I even received a reference from my supervisor that helped me land a volunteer position at St. Michael’s Hospital. I honestly believe this program is a gift that keeps on giving,” she said.

​Here’s what some other participants had to say about YouthWorx:

  • “I had a lot of trouble finding a job; I was in and out of a job agency for over a year. YouthWorx did more than just employ me, it connected me to opportunities that got me into college through the weekly opportunities and updates we receive via email. With my references from the program I was able to get into my program at George Brown College,” said Jerome, a resident from Keele and Eglinton.
  • Second-time YouthWorx participant Alfonso, 22, said, “The weekly workshops really resonated with me, especially the workshop on spirituality and wellness. It really helped me cope with negativity and a lot of issues going on my life, both internally and externally.”
  • “The most rewarding part of the program was seeing the way we transformed communities. Residents would come by and see the work we were doing and thank us. I felt proud to be a part of it!” said Prethoo, 14.

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YouthWorx participants in their yellow t-shirts before they perform​ at the final YouthWorx 2015 training day.

  • “YouthWorx provides youth with a source of income, while improving community infrastructure and beautifying local neighbourhoods. Being a part of these activities helps young people build a sense of ownership for the communities they live in. This also helps to combat the negative stigma that youth often face from adults, by engaging them in productive work that allows them to give back and help out in their communities,” said Tara Cracknell, a representative from YES Toronto, a youth-focused employment agency that serves about 9,000 young people across the city, which has been partnering with Toronto Community Housing on the YouthWorx program since its launch in 2012.
Toronto Community Housing is home to many young people who have so much to offer their communities—YouthWorx is a testament to that. More than one-quarter of our residents are 24 years old and younger, brimming with energy, brains and ambition. By providing opportunities for them, we are working to build a better city for everyone.

To work with Toronto Community Housing on future employment opportunities and youth programs, contact us at economic.opps@torontohousing.ca.

To see more photos from the YouthWorx program visit the photo album on Facebook.