United Way Hastings & Prince Edward and Quinte West Youth Centre

United Way Hastings & Prince Edward and Quinte West Youth Centre

By: Demii Niles

Director of the Quinte West Youth says the Youth Centre has been expanding year after year.
Quinte West Youth Centre is a non-profit organization of youth ages 12 – 18, where they can go to have fun with different activities and resources while learning different skill sets. The Quinte West Youth Centre has been located in Trenton for 7 years and it’s been growing and changing year after year.

Connie Nye-Kaley Executive director of the Quinte West Youth Centre said,
“Just when we think we have gotten a handle on what we think we are accomplishing, the demographic changes again. It’s ever changing and I think if there is a way to be able to explain the Youth Centre that would be it.”
Nye-Kaley talked about how the Quinte West Youth Centre has progressed within the last couple of years and the age demographic and interest have been changing throughout the years.

“Two years ago, our demographic was older and we had 17 to 18-year-olds that were hanging out and they had different interests. Then everything shifted to a much younger demographic. Now we are servicing grades 6 to 8 mostly.”

Nye-Kaley said that there is still some older youth that come out, but the real focus is on the younger demographics’ needs and interests. She said the centre’s whole purpose of being there is to mentor and provide resources. The centre wants to support these kids and help them get a good start, giving them access to recreational programs without the fees that usually go along with sign-up.

“Youth centres are popping up all over the place because of that, so it is definitely meeting a need for young people.” Nye Kaley stated.

There is a Healthy Eating and Nutrition Program, which involves cooking and teaching the youth what foods can make a healthy meal. This is done with the help of the Food for Learning Program. They also have a program called Youth Link which is about youth volunteering in the community. Nye-Kaley said this gives kids a little bit of a confidence booster in volunteering, because they get to volunteer with a group of people they know instead of signing up to do something on their own.

“That’s a way for high school kids to get their high school hours, but it’s kind of evolved from that. Now it’s the younger kids that are also enjoying volunteering just for the sake of volunteering.”

She said it’s not just about those 40 hours for high school like it once was. The programs they are offering shifted to the needs and interests of the younger generation. Nye-Kaley said the cooking program and the healthy eating and nutrition program is the best program they have.

“It kind of satisfies learning but also feeds a lot of youth who may not always have access to a healthy meal, dinner time is a meal that we take for granted. At the end of the day, these kids automatically have a free meal every night of the week. That’s why I would say is our best program.”

She explains that they Youth Centre is there for their community. This is a great program and with the cost of living increasing it can make it more difficult to buy healthier meals. With minimum wage increasing this offers families more of a chance to afford more.

“The Youth Centre has established itself a real foothold in the community. A lot of our older generation know that we are here. We have built up that respect in the community,” said Nye-Kaley.

The Quinte West youth centre is funded by a couple different non-profit organizations and Nye-Kaley said the United Way Hastings & Prince Edward is their major fundraiser. Ontario Trillium Foundation is a big funder for the Youth Centre, as well as the City of Quinte West.

She said United Way has been funding the Youth Centre since they opened their doors.

“United Way has been an integral piece of how we operate for sure. We couldn’t do it without them and so we are very respectful of United Way and very appreciative of all the efforts that go in, and the contributions that come from the community to the United Way to help support community programs like this,” Nye-Kaley said.

Demii Niles is an intern at United Way Hastings & Prince Edward from the Loyalist College Journalism Program. She lives an active lifestyle keeps engaged with the community and on her own time writes and helps people when she can.