This report describes the survey results of the Windsor Youth Centre (WYC) program activities. The final program evaluation report will include these results in addition to results from future focus groups and an art-based display/portrayal.
The Windsor Youth Centre (WYC) is a non-profit organization serving youth aged 16-25 in Windsor-Essex, Ontario. The mission of the WYC is to serve the basic and immediate needs of homeless and at-risk youth by providing a safe and friendly atmosphere to foster positive change and growth. The WYC operates under the guidelines of sincerity and service in order to generate feelings of trust, responsibility, and community membership between the staff, volunteers, and homeless youth. Based on a Freirean model of effecting positive social change and personal liberation (Freire, 1985), the WYC employs the three aspects of praxis (theory, action, and reflection) with a vision toward social justice in order to prevent and ultimately end youth homelessness. Homelessness can happen to anyone and it can be attributed to a number of factors including abuse, loss of employment, unmanageable living expenses, and/ or mental health or addiction problems. Youth homelessness can also be a hidden issue since many at-risk and homeless youth sometimes stay with friends or relatives (i.e., sleeping rough or couch surfing). Although these youth are not necessarily sleeping on the street or in shelters, their housing situations are unstable, unsustainable, and precarious. This homeless youth population is the demographic the WYC targets.
Program Activities Overview
Daily hot meal (dinner at 6:30 pm). This is a shared meal which invites all at WYC to feel a sense of community: staff, volunteers, and youth.
Dedicated staff and volunteers work with at-risk and homeless youth one-on-one and provide support for housing, employment, education, and other supports as needed.
The WYC offers a number of resources to the youth including: Access to computers, WIFI, laundry facilities, bulk food supplies, transportation services, telephone, workshops, and printing services.
Youth and volunteers create and maintain a garden where they harvest food for their own WYC meal program. Youth learn about agriculture from staff and volunteers and from 'doing'. The garden also serves as 'healing space' for youth.
Equipped for Student Success
WYC provides funds to youth who are studying to help meet their basic needs as they arise.
Peer Outreach Team
The WYC conducts peer outreach to high schools in the area to provide snacks, transportation, and necessities as needed and increase youth awareness of the WYC and its supports and services.
The Windsor Youth Centre (WYC) aims to increase access to food and other essential services for homeless and at-risk youth aged 16 to 25 years old in Windsor-Essex. With an overall program expansion of 80% over three years, the project aims to help 1,500 vulnerable youth toward increased economic stability. The project is funded for a period of three years, from February 2016 to February 2019, by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
In 2004, over 300 youth accessed meals and other essential services at the WYC. Youth who attended regularly are those who were ‘sleeping rough’ or couch surfing, those who experienced abuse at home, or who suffered from mental illness and/ or addiction. Those who are “housed” often report living in conditions where cooking and storing food is challenging; there is no hydro or hot water, no cooking implements, pest infestation, and roommates who steal their food. Over the last four years, the WYC has surpassed expectations of service provision. As the only drop-in for this vulnerable population in the area, the project intends to expand to meet the growing needs of the community.
Purpose of Evaluation
In collaboration with YouthREX, the WYC conducted a small scale evaluation using both quantitative and qualitative methods to: (1) Assess the impact of the various programs on youth participants (outcome evaluation), and (2) understand how their program is operating, how it is being implemented, how the youth are experiencing the program, and how they can improve their program (process evaluation). See Appendix A for WYC logic model.