7 N.S. youth groups to share $700K in funding from province

·3 min read
Dave Sawler, director of Undercurrent Youth Centre in Glace Bay, is shown at a funding announcement Friday in Cape Breton. (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)
Dave Sawler, director of Undercurrent Youth Centre in Glace Bay, is shown at a funding announcement Friday in Cape Breton. (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)

Nova Scotia's minister responsible for youth said Friday he was pleased to announce funding for seven youth organizations across the province because he knows how much it would have helped when he was a kid.

"I spent most of my time growing up on the streets of Glace Bay," Brian Comer told a small gathering at the Undercurrent Youth Centre in Glace Bay on Friday. "Oftentimes, decisions that you make at that age can dictate your life course in many ways, so I think that these groups do phenomenal work."

Comer said he was not an at-risk youth, but he knows many who were.

"I was very fortunate that I grew up in a supportive, loving family ... and many of my friends and colleagues in high school didn't have that sort of support, so I think what Dave does here and many other groups across the province is it allows a venue for people to have that contact with leaders in the community.

"Whether it's just a safe space for activity or a conversation, healthy nutrition, these things are all critical components of healthy development."

Comer, who is also the minister responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health, announced $700,000 will be split equally among the organizations.

The organizations to receive funding are Undercurrent, The Portal Youth Outreach Association in Kentville, Pictou County Roots for Youth in New Glasgow, LOVE Nova Scotia in Halifax, Sipekne'katik and Membertou, SHYFT (Supporting Housing Youth Focus Team) in Yarmouth, the Boys and Girls Club Cape Breton in Whitney Pier and the Clifford Street Youth Centre in North Sydney.

The one-time funding for youth mental health promotion and prevention is the first of its kind in Nova Scotia. Comer said he hopes it will continue in the future.

"I think it's a great first step," he said.

Studies are starting to show the impacts of the pandemic on youth, including eating disorders, depression and anxiety, Comer said.

"I do worry in a year, two years, three years time the impacts that we're really going to see ... so I think this [funding] is very much to get things going as quickly as possible."

Dave Sawler, director of the Undercurrent Youth Centre, said the funding will make a difference.

Tom Ayers/CBC
Tom Ayers/CBC

"Here in Glace Bay, our addiction rates, our poverty rates have not changed in two decades and I think it actually takes a change of approach where ... we're really helping prevent hundreds of more youth from falling into that same cycle, because we've never been able to break out of the cycles that we're in," he said.

The funding is "actually an investment into something that hasn't happened before. It's saying, 'Let's do something to change the future of our community' and I think that's an exciting approach."

The Glace Bay centre includes a gymnasium.

Sawler said the injection of $100,000 will allow the centre to buy more equipment and pay staff to keep the centre open longer hours.


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