“Most of us will sustain meaning in life by being given opportunities to show others that our lives are worthwhile, to make sense of our experiences, and to reflect on a personal or collective mission.  Our lives matter most when we matter to others (Ungar 2018, 68).” 

Terra Centre’s Youth Leadership program is built on a deep understanding that the above quote captures the heart of our work with program participants.  

Our Youth Leadership program provides young parents with the opportunity to engage in personal development and leadership skills building. Participants learn to develop key skills like communication, public speaking, networking and financial literacy to name a few. 

Since its inception, the Youth Leadership program has operated as an in-person program with its group programming based at Braemar School.  Through this program we are proud to see our participants develop self-confidence, public speaking skills and learn how to present themselves as they navigate life beyond Braemar.  

In 2020, Terra was fortunate to receive support for this program through RBC’s Future Launch program. RBC’s Future Launch program supports programs that empower youth and increase their access to work-related programs, tools and resources.  

In-person engagement and group sessions were central to the model of youth leadership program, however with the COVID-19 pandemic, the delivery of this program was turned on its head.  

What shift could we make that held true to the heart of the program and respected the constantly changing public health restrictions? 

Given that our program is based in a school, our program facilitator had to create a way to embed much of the youth leadership content into classroom curriculum and delivered content virtually via video calls. While not ideal as the in-person interaction was missing, it still allowed our participants to learn key skills. 

Our facilitator also worked with support workers to find other ways to incorporate learnings into daily interactions with participants, ensuring that all participants were able to learn more key skills. 

Our in-person events were changed significantly this year, but our program facilitator was still able to coach participants and develop their public speaking and they were able to pay a role in our Annual General Meeting and our virtual fundraising event, laughs Over Lunch.  

The last year was one where many of us spent much more time online. As we continued to engage with participants, our Youth Leadership program also worked with participants in exploring their relationship to social media and focused on financial planning and budgeting as well as digital literacy.  

As the school year concludes, we are focused on transitions and virtual programming is now focused on employment support, financial planning and post-secondary preparation.  

The flexibility we were able to exercise this year wouldn’t be possible without RBC’s generous support. We are so grateful to RBC for believing in our participants and investing in the futures of teen parents. 

You can learn more about RBC’s Future Launch Program here and our Youth Leadership program here. 

Michael Ungar, 2018.  Change Youth World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success.  Sutherland House. Toronto.