Ways Communities Can Support and Attract Youth in Rural Ontario

There are a number of exciting initiatives currently under way that look to answer some of the questions mentioned in part one of this series, and kick start discussion around youth engagement in rural communities.

Hanover Youth Roots’ Impact! Youth Summit took place on May 28th2016. This event brought over 200 rural youth and a number of motivational speakers together The agenda sought to inspire new ideas and critical thought, and encourage youth to take action in their own lives and their communities. During end-of-day consultations, youth were given an opportunity to identify and address issues they saw in their own communities.

“Youth have now returned to their communities from this event and it is our hope they may implement a project to create meaningful change”, said Brandon Koebel, coordinator for Hanover Youth Roots.

The Rural Ontario Summit on June 29th 2016, brought together close to 200 youth and professionals working on youth related issues in rural communities. This event came to fruition following , the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Jeff  Leal’s youth consultations tour across Ontario.

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Some speakers at the Rural Ontario Summit held June 29th 2016

“Through discussions at roundtables I’ve hosted across the province,” explains Minister Leal, “I’ve had the opportunity to hear youth and community leaders share their ideas for building a strong rural Ontario. This summit,” Leal continues, was to “act as a catalyst for engaging youth in their communities and help municipalities, businesses and Ontarians of all ages come together to build the future of rural Ontario.”

The room was full of positive energy and from the evaluations collected, the second Rural Ontario Summit was a great success. It provided  an opportunity to identify issues affecting youth, brainstorm strategies, and build new relationships with the hopoe to help move new programs and initiatives forward.

Some ideas coming from the summit:

  • People will only come back if they feel like they’ve left something behind – LaunchPad’s Jacinda Rudolph
  • We don’t talk about “youth issues”. Everything in our community is a youth issue – Mitchell Case, Métis First Nation

It’s not all conversations though. There are many amazing projects, programs and initiatives currently underway that are addressing many of the issues raised during these summits such as:

The Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) is a unique program targeted at high school students, actively connecting them with social issues, local charities, and grant-making processes in their local community. The goal of this program is to get youth involved in their communities.

LaunchPad is a youth facility located in Hanover, Ontario that provides a unique environment for young people to access technology, skills building opportunities, and arts and recreation, while offering opportunities to contribute to ongoing community building initiatives.

The Perth County Youth Attraction Strategy (PCYAS) is a collaborative strategic planning initiative with Perth County’s lower tier municipalities and the independent towns of Stratford and St. Mary’s, Ontario. Through the PCYAS, communities will lead their own facilitations to build a strategic plan focussing on youth attraction.

Rural communities are increasingly aware of the value youth bring to their communities, and it’s exciting to see the kind of actions that are being taken to address youth issues across rural Ontario! For more information on why supporting youth in rural areas is so critical, please read part one of this series.

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