Imagine growing up in a community where there isn’t a safe place to go after school to just hang out, to just be a kid.
Through United Way’s Community Fund we strengthen individuals, families and communities right across Toronto. Working alongside agency partners United Way works to make our neighbourhoods healthier and more vibrant places to call home. Neighbourhoods like Jane-Finch.
Imagine growing up in a community where there isn’t a safe place to go after school to just hang out, to just be a kid. Imagine seeing some of your friends get caught in a cycle of dangerous or violent activity because there aren’t the same opportunities that kids from other, more affluent neighbourhoods have. That’s what it was like in Jane-Finch just two short years ago, before The Spot. The Spot is a satellite of the Jane-Finch Community and Family Centre, a United Way agency. It opened its doors in 2005 and is a drop-in centre offering after-school programming and access to information on issues identified by youth. Most importantly, it’s a safe and welcoming place for young people to just chill.
Byron Gray runs The Spot and he says kids come to the centre knowing they won’t feel isolated, be bullied or harassed. Instead he says it feels like a family to many of the youth. Youth like Mario who comes almost every day to research culinary arts programs on the Internet, dreaming of one day becoming a chef in Japan.
The other thing about The Spot is, youth are included in all aspects of the centre from informing the programming to designing the centre’s signage and that, Byron says, is truly the essence of The Spot. And by being a part of something positive in their community and having their voices heard, youth will not only keep coming through The Spot’s doors, but their neighbourhood will become a better place to live.