02 June 2011|
As the Teen Coordinator at the Walkley Centre, Ambrose Hamilton claims that creating a place and positive atmosphere for youth to turn to is by far one of the best decisions he has ever made. He sees a large number of young people coming in weekly and most come in daily, just because they need somewhere to go.
At first, when the teen program was still in its infancy, we had nothing; basically we only had empty rooms. However, due to the vast number of kids they see every day at the Walkley Centre, it inspired Ambrose to go out there and find the proper necessities to make the youth feel at home. More specifically, a lounge area was created with TVs so that the teens can watch movies and play video games, and set up a game room where the teens can play different games, the game room is equipped with a pool table and table hockey. Other initiatives include beginner fitness equipment, such as hand weights and a bench press, and a music system where the teens can actually come in and listen to music and freestyle. There is also a computer room which is now open to the teens and enables them to make their CV’s, do their homework, etc. The teens also took part in helping renovate the centre in preparation to complete a mural that reflects the lifestyle of the youth.
Over the past years due to the efforts of Ambrose and other Prevention CDN-NDG staff, the youth program has become a place to go to because the teens get the chance to do stuff that they otherwise would not be able to. For example, every year we take them to La Ronde, Laser Quest and engage them in community activities such as Hip Hop You Don’t Stop, etc. Also a new program starting soon will consist of taking the teens to the Benny Sports Complex to work out with a trained professional every Saturday.
Due to the circumstances that many of the youth find themselves in, we try to find ways to feed them because numerous times they come in hungry. We are in the process of creating a system where every first and third Friday of the month we have a chef come in to the Walkley Centre and show the teens how to cook a meal. We also plan to take the teens on more outings outside of Montreal in the near future. Bringing them out of town, for example, to Ottawa, will allow them to visit places they’ve never been before and educate them about this country and its heritage.
As teen coordinator Ambrose has taken it upon himself to help the youth find jobs and perfect their CVs. It is very inspiring that teens have become Counsellors in training (CIT) and animators at the Walkley Centre for summer camp. The program has had such a huge positive impact on some teens that even though they moved away from Montreal they come back during the summer time just to visit the centre. Ambrose has also realized the positive impact that the teen drop-in program has had on not only the teens but the parents as well. In fact, some parents call him to find out how their teens are doing because they do not have that type of relationship with their own kids relating to problems both in and out of school.Finally, because the program is available to teens, we have less teens complaining about police harassment, and less people from the community complaining about the teens not having and thing to do and roaming the streets, all because they are indoors and taking part in positive and productive activities.