October 22, 2013

Into new territory with 3 projects for youth

vulyouthUnited Way of Calgary and Area has a long history of supporting vulnerable youth in our city, but now we're moving beyond conventional approaches to youth work.

We're into new territory with three innovative projects.

In 2012, United Way launched a vulnerable youth investment strategy that aims to build and strengthen healthy natural supports — family members, peers, mentors, and other non-professional relationships — for youth. In the past, human service agencies have tended to focus on connecting youth with professionals, not necessarily thinking of family members as potential assets and a source of support.

That's changing. In collaboration with local agencies, United Way is reframing families and other natural supports as part of the solution for vulnerable youth. United Way is investing in three projects that are prototyping this new approach:

1. Fusion Project - Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary

This project aims to divert youth from homelessness by helping youth identify, activate and enhance natural supports that can support the youth through adolescence and help them successfully transition into a self-sufficient adulthood.

2. Youth Engaging Supports (YES) Project - Big Brothers Big Sisters & Aspen Family

This project is a collaboration focused on establishing mentors as facilitated natural supports for youth in care as they transition to independence.

3. Enhancing Supports Project - The Alex & Calgary Sexual Health Centre

This project engages with specifically identified youth to activate and enhance their natural supports through youth-directed one-to-one meetings.

Read more in the Calgary Herald: Agencies see family as key to helping vulnerable youths (October 18, 2013)