Trip to St. Vincent helps land Regent Park youth worker award

Community Jun 05, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

Throughout his 25-year career in downtown Toronto, Dixon Hall manager of youth programs Kenneth Slater has seen plenty of Regent Park youth struggle with violence in their community.

While there are supports in place to help many young people cope with difficult situations, Slater decided to take things a step further, taking a select group of young boys from the downtown neighbourhood to his native St. Vincent as part of a new initiative he started.

Known as the Summer Experience Project, the innovative program brought kids outside their own community and offered fantastic new experiences.

“There were seven boys who were identified for the project and they got to enjoy some personal development opportunities with other young people down there (in St. Vincent),” Slater said. “It gave our young people from Regent Park an opportunity to be away, to be safe, to be themselves and not have to wear the masks they wear when they’re at home.”

He noted that there are certain expectations for many kids growing up in Regent Park. One boy who went on the trip, Slater pointed out, wasn’t even shaken when bullets were fired into a building he was in while at home.

“He had been desensitized to the seriousness of the situation,” Slater noted.

While in St. Vincent, meanwhile, the boys were brought on a short boat excursion and, despite the boat being captained by a seasoned professional and the fact that they were wearing life jackets, they were terrified when they wound up in choppy waters.

“At the end of the day, we talked about fear,” Slater said. “I asked what they learned and some of them said ‘I’m never going on a boat again.’ I asked them how that’s different from being at home and being shot at.”

That, Slater noted, opened the boys’ eyes to the danger they faced by getting involved with the wrong crowd back in Regent Park.

Once they returned from their trip to St. Vincent, the boys were given youth employment and volunteer placements to help them build skills and prepare for successful careers. One of them had ambitions of becoming a hip hop artist and wound up auditioning for – and landing a role in – a play based on life in Regent Park.

“You could see the growth in him and it was just amazing to see his eyes open up to his talent and the opportunities he had,” Slater said.

With the first Summer Experience Project behind him, Slater hopes to see the program continue, ideally with a group of Regent Park girls facing many of the same issues the boys were. The hope is that supporters Dixon Hall, the Kiwanis Club and the Daniels Corporation will help cover costs yet again.

For his innovative thinking in providing new opportunities for at-risk youth in Regent Park, Slater received a Bhayana Family Foundation Award, which recognize leaders in the social services sector.

Trip to St. Vincent helps land Regent Park youth worker award

Summer Experience Project enabled seven at-risk youth trip of a lifetime

Community Jun 05, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

Throughout his 25-year career in downtown Toronto, Dixon Hall manager of youth programs Kenneth Slater has seen plenty of Regent Park youth struggle with violence in their community.

While there are supports in place to help many young people cope with difficult situations, Slater decided to take things a step further, taking a select group of young boys from the downtown neighbourhood to his native St. Vincent as part of a new initiative he started.

Known as the Summer Experience Project, the innovative program brought kids outside their own community and offered fantastic new experiences.

“There were seven boys who were identified for the project and they got to enjoy some personal development opportunities with other young people down there (in St. Vincent),” Slater said. “It gave our young people from Regent Park an opportunity to be away, to be safe, to be themselves and not have to wear the masks they wear when they’re at home.”

He noted that there are certain expectations for many kids growing up in Regent Park. One boy who went on the trip, Slater pointed out, wasn’t even shaken when bullets were fired into a building he was in while at home.

“He had been desensitized to the seriousness of the situation,” Slater noted.

While in St. Vincent, meanwhile, the boys were brought on a short boat excursion and, despite the boat being captained by a seasoned professional and the fact that they were wearing life jackets, they were terrified when they wound up in choppy waters.

“At the end of the day, we talked about fear,” Slater said. “I asked what they learned and some of them said ‘I’m never going on a boat again.’ I asked them how that’s different from being at home and being shot at.”

That, Slater noted, opened the boys’ eyes to the danger they faced by getting involved with the wrong crowd back in Regent Park.

Once they returned from their trip to St. Vincent, the boys were given youth employment and volunteer placements to help them build skills and prepare for successful careers. One of them had ambitions of becoming a hip hop artist and wound up auditioning for – and landing a role in – a play based on life in Regent Park.

“You could see the growth in him and it was just amazing to see his eyes open up to his talent and the opportunities he had,” Slater said.

With the first Summer Experience Project behind him, Slater hopes to see the program continue, ideally with a group of Regent Park girls facing many of the same issues the boys were. The hope is that supporters Dixon Hall, the Kiwanis Club and the Daniels Corporation will help cover costs yet again.

For his innovative thinking in providing new opportunities for at-risk youth in Regent Park, Slater received a Bhayana Family Foundation Award, which recognize leaders in the social services sector.

Trip to St. Vincent helps land Regent Park youth worker award

Summer Experience Project enabled seven at-risk youth trip of a lifetime

Community Jun 05, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

Throughout his 25-year career in downtown Toronto, Dixon Hall manager of youth programs Kenneth Slater has seen plenty of Regent Park youth struggle with violence in their community.

While there are supports in place to help many young people cope with difficult situations, Slater decided to take things a step further, taking a select group of young boys from the downtown neighbourhood to his native St. Vincent as part of a new initiative he started.

Known as the Summer Experience Project, the innovative program brought kids outside their own community and offered fantastic new experiences.

“There were seven boys who were identified for the project and they got to enjoy some personal development opportunities with other young people down there (in St. Vincent),” Slater said. “It gave our young people from Regent Park an opportunity to be away, to be safe, to be themselves and not have to wear the masks they wear when they’re at home.”

He noted that there are certain expectations for many kids growing up in Regent Park. One boy who went on the trip, Slater pointed out, wasn’t even shaken when bullets were fired into a building he was in while at home.

“He had been desensitized to the seriousness of the situation,” Slater noted.

While in St. Vincent, meanwhile, the boys were brought on a short boat excursion and, despite the boat being captained by a seasoned professional and the fact that they were wearing life jackets, they were terrified when they wound up in choppy waters.

“At the end of the day, we talked about fear,” Slater said. “I asked what they learned and some of them said ‘I’m never going on a boat again.’ I asked them how that’s different from being at home and being shot at.”

That, Slater noted, opened the boys’ eyes to the danger they faced by getting involved with the wrong crowd back in Regent Park.

Once they returned from their trip to St. Vincent, the boys were given youth employment and volunteer placements to help them build skills and prepare for successful careers. One of them had ambitions of becoming a hip hop artist and wound up auditioning for – and landing a role in – a play based on life in Regent Park.

“You could see the growth in him and it was just amazing to see his eyes open up to his talent and the opportunities he had,” Slater said.

With the first Summer Experience Project behind him, Slater hopes to see the program continue, ideally with a group of Regent Park girls facing many of the same issues the boys were. The hope is that supporters Dixon Hall, the Kiwanis Club and the Daniels Corporation will help cover costs yet again.

For his innovative thinking in providing new opportunities for at-risk youth in Regent Park, Slater received a Bhayana Family Foundation Award, which recognize leaders in the social services sector.