Without positive role models and a real chance to develop the skills that can set them on the path to new opportunities, young people living in at-risk neighbourhoods often experience diminished horizons and do not have a chance to see that life can offer some pretty amazing alternatives. Dixon Hall opens the door to those alternatives, making it possible to grow up with hopes and dreams and to set positive life goals. To do this, the Dixon Hall program partners youth peer mentoring with social, recreational and educational activities.
We use a peer support and leadership model, provide at-risk youth from Regent Park with anti-violence training, family support, health education, creative arts activities, employment opportunities and support and leadership training, all within a safe, accessible space .Dixon Hall has a youth centre at 44 Blevins Place, is located in the heart of Regent Park. From our Youth Center, a variety of activities are planned, among them film and radio projects, computer training, indoor soccer (in partnership with Regent Park Community Centre), a weekly Friday night social, and a community basketball league (also in partnership with Regent Park Community Centre). Dixon Hall’s community safety, Saturday Night Program, (in partnership with several other agencies), provides social activities for up to70 youth from Regent and Moss Park.
In addition to the on-site activities offered at the Youth Centre, the staff continuously engages young people with the planning of special trips and outings that allow them an opportunity to experience life outside of their immediate community. Experiences such as overnight camping trips to Algonquin Park provide youth with an opportunity to broaden their understanding of the world they live in and exposes them to an environment they might not otherwise be exposed to. Experience has shown that these types of trips enable young people to engage with staff in a manner that facilitates openness, provides a forum for discussion and the exploration of how behavioural choices can impact on their futures, forges bonds of respect, provides an opportunity to develop trust on a different level, broadens horizons, and encourages dreams and growth.
Young women between the ages of 13 and 17 continue to have a supportive drop-in centre, where they can take an active and participatory role in planning and implementing a variety of activities, including workshops, cooking nights, dances and sports. ‘Senior’ participants play key roles as mentors for the new younger elementary school participants. Weekly drop-in programs engage the participants and their mentors in recreational and social activities, encouraging them to connect with community agencies and institutions in a positive and productive way throughout the year.
Sandra, who at age 3 first became involved with Dixon Hall as a participant in our children’s program, supports this area of youth programming. She provides counseling, life skills programming and various supports on a regular basis to 30 women and girls, and is contacted in times of crisis by a much larger number of young women living in the Dixon Hall catchment. The programming that Sandra provides is supported by other Dixon Hall opportunities for youth, such as the Dixon Hall Summer Day Camp and March Break Camp, where the youth have a chance to take on leadership roles. “The everyday progress has been very rewarding to see, the girls are learning how to positively express themselves,” says Sandra.
Contacts and Regularly Scheduled Programming:
Computer Access – daily – at 44 Blevins Place & 417 Gerrard St. Drop in or contact Kenneth Slater, Youth Worker, or Sandra Costain, Youth Worker at 416-203-7885
Basketball – Monday – at Regent Park Community Centre
Cooking – Tuesday evenings – at 44 Blevins Place
Young Women’s Group – Wednesday evenings – Regent Park Community Centre, contact Sandra Costain, Youth Worker at 416-203-7885
Health Clinic – Thursday evenings – at 44 Blevins Place
Saturday Night Program – Saturday – at 44 Blevins Place & Regent Park Community Centre
Youth are invited to contact our Youth Workers, Sandra or Kenneth, by calling or dropping by 44 Blevins any time. 416-203-7885