by Nicolle Hodges
For local youth living in poverty, the line between striving and surviving is at risk of widening.
But Surrey libraries and community centres are aiming to help disadvantaged youth by offering them access to a variety of free, quality resources.
“Surrey Libraries is taking the initiative to be the library of the future,” says Ellen Woo, Surrey Libraries’ teen services librarian. “It is a free space where teens can learn in a social context and get peer support, as well as the guidance of experts.”
Teens looking for help with their studies will find free Wi-Fi, group and silent study spaces, and computer labs. Those looking to get connected with other teens can take part in a range of activities, book clubs and writing competitions. Or they can earn school service hours by mentoring struggling beginner readers through the Coast Capital Savings Reading Buddies program.
Surrey Youth Resource Centres are considered a “one stop youth hub” that provide services for kids and teens, ranging from after-school programming (crafts, arts, self-esteem and anger management, cooking, homework clubs, leadership classes) to free counselling, alcohol and drug prevention and other specialized outreach services.
Associate Director of Youth Services for Pacific Community Resources Society, Michelle Shaw, says that as a result of the services, many youth have been able to get the help they need.
“Over time and involvement with multiple programs, youth learn that they can trust the adults around the centres due to the consistency of care they receive in each program,” says Shaw. “They become more willing to accept the needed help.”
Surrey Youth Resource Centres partner with the City of Surrey on many initiatives that impact youth. The city offers a Leisure Access Program that provides permanent residents in financial need with the opportunity to participate in Parks, Recreation and Culture activities at a significantly reduced cost. The city also has a Child and Youth Friendly Strategy and a Master Plan for Ending Homelessness, which addresses youth homelessness as a priority and encourages youth leadership at all levels.
Surrey Youth Resources is operated by Pacific Community Resources in partnership with Options Community Resources and a variety of other community and government agencies.
There are two service hubs, one in Guildford and one in Newton.
For more information see www.pcrs.ca