A man and a woman stand in front of a blue bulletin board decorated with a large dandelion and the quote: "A seed of kindness can go further than you think." The two people are wearing white t-shirts, masks, and green landyards.

Mission Services realizes the importance of setting positive examples for the youth in our community and we strive to do that in a variety of our programs.

The 196 is an afterschool program that encourages youth in grades six, seven, and eight to pursue post-secondary education. Before the pandemic, The 196 offered activities Monday to Friday including homework help and mental health games, cooking lessons, and tours at Mohawk and McMaster. During the pandemic, The 196 program focussed on porch drop-offs of food and activities for the families at home and supporting youth online.

“We want to provide the participants with a space to gain experiences that they wouldn’t otherwise have,” explained Adalia, The 196 Program Coordinator.
The 196 offers a variety of different activities each week for the youth to try out and really hone in on what skills they are good at and what areas they enjoy most.

“We all fail sometimes but we need to provide a safe space for the youth to figure that out.”

Before the pandemic, the partnerships with Mohawk College and McMaster University allowed participants in The 196 Program to visit the campuses, explore the different departments, and envision themselves in the schools.

“We had a participant a couple years ago who came to the program but wasn’t really interested in the activities. However, we were given an opportunity to visit Mohawk’s automotive department and he was immediately like ‘this is where my home is!’ It’s giving them the opportunity to recognize that even if you don’t see yourself in lectures, there is a place for you, you just need to find it,” said Adalia.

The 196 utilizes volunteers and mentors to work with the youth. Arka, the Youth Wellness Worker, used to volunteer in the space.

“A big reason I joined this team is I’ve always had a lot of beautiful role models in my life. At this age children are very impressionable and need guidance and support as much as possible. There are certain standards we want them to achieve and I think the best way we can do that is by leading by example.”

Adalia says the ultimate goal is for The 196 participants to become mentors themselves. “If they can bring home what they’re learning in the program to their own siblings, their own friends, we can have a greater impact in the community,” shared Adalia. The parents definitely see the difference too.

“Not sure if we have thanked you all enough for how much we love and appreciate the positive impact The 196 has had on this family,” shared one mom. Most importantly the program allows the kids to be kids.

“The thing I like about The 196 is going on adventures, learning to make food, and being with my friends.” – youth participant

This summer The 196 Program was overjoyed to operate its summer camp two days a week and work with the youth in our community. We hope to resume all of the regular programming in The 196 soon.

Other Ways We Support Youth:

At Inasmuch House we offer support to children and their mothers through the LEAF (Learning Effective Anti-Violence in Families) program to help them process the domestic violence they’ve experienced. Children learn about safety planning, self-esteem, conflict resolution, anger management, and dating violence.

Mission Services Child and Youth Workers also offer one-on-one support to children; childminding while moms are accessing supports; activity nights like painting, yoga and drive-in style movies; as well as facilitating conversations with children who have experienced or witnessed abuse in a safe, play-based setting.

Our Food Services Program provides emergency food to families with children at our Good Food Centre every day, but they also look to provide support in other ways too. Partnering with programs like the Learning Partnership and Read On Canada!, they hope to enhance literacy among the youth in our community by providing age appropriate books and activities.

Another partner of the Food Services program is Taste Buds. At the beginning of April, Mission Services began receiving additional funds to help support students who were learning remotely and provide ongoing support throughout the summer months. Thanks to this initiative, The 196 families received fresh fruits and vegetables each week during porch drop offs, as well as all of the families with school aged children at our Good Food Centre.

Throughout the summer Mission Services provides lunch to all the children attending The 196 Summer Camp as well as 40 campers and their leaders at Eva Rothwell Centre.

“Investing in the children of our community through nutritious food will develop stronger and healthier students,” said Director of Food Services, Susan Smith.

We hope to reopen our Youth Afterschool Meal Program at our Community Kitchen this fall so we can get back to providing hot, healthy, and nutritious meals to 65-85 students, five nights a week during the school year.

Read our the full version of our Fall 2021 newsletter here.

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