At-risk youth finds positive path at the Y
Image Credit: Contributed
May 15, 2016 - 2:48 PM
Finding employment isn’t always an easy task for youth in the Okanagan, especially for those who didn’t have the same opportunities as their peers growing up.
For Tyler Holroyd, whose family fell a part in his childhood, life was a struggle from an early age. Tyler bounced from group home to group home. He didn’t have positive role models to look up to, or a stable environment to rely on. At the age of 19 he called the homeless shelter in Penticton his “home”.
Growing up in such an uncertain environment can create life-long barriers for kids. Foster children have no control over their living situation and that constant unknown can cause insecurity and serious emotional trauma. According to Public Safety Canada, only 44 per cent of children in foster care graduate from high school, compared to 81 per cent of their peers. Kids who live in alternate care arrangements regularly live in poverty, and are much more likely to conduct criminal offenses and engage in substance use.
Tyler lived in this reality. He did not complete high school, he struggled with alcohol abuse and was headed down a destructive path. Without money for transportation or appropriate clothing, and with no work experience, the odds of Tyler turning his life around were becoming bleak.
However, one day, this changed. Someone he trusted at the shelter referred him to a local employment program for youth who were facing similar struggles in life. The program, YMCA Jumpstart Employment Essentials, helped him with clothing, food, bus tickets, life and employability skills and gave him a safe place to go during the day. The staff even helped him get a haircut.
When Tyler enrolled, he was immediately taken under the wings of the staff and the other participants in the program. He was integrated into a positive community, with healthy role models to look up to. He met friends and showed a particular interest in work focused around self-discovery. For the first time, in a long time, Tyler had people whom he respected holding him accountable and he wanted to succeed.
Having a sense of community, people who believe in him and the financial supports provided by the Y helped Tyler turn his life around. Tyler landed a job at a local manufacturing plant and got an apartment nearby work. He was able to maintain employment and stable housing for nearly two years and is even looking at going back to school. While he recently left his position to pursue additional supports for his future, Tyler is on a positive path.
To provide programs and financial support to kids like Tyler, the YMCA needs your help. A great way to get involved and give back to your community is through YMCA Cycle for Strong Kids coming up on May 29. This fundraising event will make a difference in hundreds of kids’ lives. Riders can sign up at ymcaokanagan.ca/cycle-for-strong-kids. All proceeds from the event go directly to help children and youth like Tyler get the resources they need to live healthier lives.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016