Investing in the future
Investing in our children and young people is an investment in tomorrow’s future leaders. That’s why at COSTI, we know it’s so important to invest in young people’s overall health and well-being, education and employment – all things that contribute to strong social capital and thriving communities. To provide effective programming, we also consider the many barriers many young people face, including mental health and physical challenges, language and cultural differences, to living in poverty.
Our Youth Health and Recreation program is just one way we’re reaching young people (ages 13 to 24) who are from a range of cultural communities, including some individuals with physical challenges. We provide counselling and job training, as well as tools to build social connections and friendships.
With COVID-19 restrictions still in play in 2021/22, COSTI continued to provide online services and also adapted with some outdoor sports and activities at several locations: Birchmount Stadium, Downsview Park, Monarch Park Stadium as well as at some of our hostel/hotel locations. In addition to building social connections with their fellow participants, physical activity is proven to reduce levels of stress and depression. Some activities included track and field, hiking, skiing, yoga, as well as our Try it Camp – a wheelchair-running activity.
The program reached 217 youth and also offered leadership and civic-engagement-building opportunities – working on community gardens or volunteering at seniors’ residences. Online counselling sessions continued and were geared to combat COVID-19 related isolation and depression. Additional online resources such as virtual physical fitness classes were also included.
COSTI’s Youth Employment Pathways program helps our young refugee youth on their journey to gainful employment. The 68 individuals who participated in 2021/22 were given access to career sessions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), as well as coaching to help with job searches.