what we do
how we work
We focus on solutions.
Choices for Youth strives to provide at-risk youth and emerging adults with programming and services that meet their present and long-term needs. Our work is informed by the lived experience and expertise of young people, feedback from program participants, input from community partners, and guidance from national programming and research.
We approach our work with the belief that every young person has immense potential, and that with the right set of supports they can achieve their goals.
A world free of social and economic barriers, where young people feel able and encouraged to pursue their aspirations and potential.
Choices for Youth is a professional services, youth-focused, non-profit, charitable organization that creates spaces and conversations, and operates programs and social enterprises to help vulnerable youth secure stable housing, employment, and education while improving health and family stability.
With a focus on prevention, intervention, and support, we help youth and their families break cycles of poverty and homelessness and transition to healthy, stable, and independent lives.
Choices for Youth combines trauma-informed, recovery-oriented, and harm-reduction practices with an empowerment philosophy and Housing First for Youth Framework. This ensures that all activities meet the needs of young people, promote flexibility and innovation in our response to breaking down barriers they may face, and are all designed to be evaluated in partnership with young people accessing the programs and services.
As an organization that has been working with the at-risk youth population for close to 30 years, our approach is defined by a combination of a number of core philosophies and practices that are research-backed, low-barrier, and solutions-oriented.
Our approach to programs and services encompasses the following:
Click the icons above to take an in-depth look at how they guide our work.
housing first for youth
As a first step, we strive to house youth as quickly as possible. With housing comes the feeling of safety, the provision of shelter, and the critical opportunity to focus on addressing their personal challenges. Once housed, our next step is to provide youth with wrap-around supports so they can do just that, and take steps towards healthy and independent lives. As a group with distinct needs, Housing First for Youth also means offering a range of youth-appropriate housing, and ensuring each young person defines for themselves the type of housing they need. Some may want to live with housemates and others may need a place of their own, while many will want to live in a community setting.
Harm reduction accepts that we aren’t always able to make perfect choices, and instead focuses on helping youth make the choices that cause them the least amount of harm in that moment. Through continued support and relationship building, we then work to equip youth to make healthier choices in the future.
Our ultimate aim is to broaden the network of support available to youth, to expand their circle of care, and to help break down social stigma and isolation. Strong partnerships are critical to making this happen. They allow us to:
Integrate a number of services for youth into our Outreach Centre, making them easier to access.
Plan outings and activities like camping trips, ball games, and gym days to provide youth with experiences that create connections and reduce isolation.
Bring individuals and businesses into our work as allies in building a better future for vulnerable youth and families.
Many of the young people we work with have dealt with difficult circumstances and traumatic experiences. As a result, many have mental health, addictions, and behavioural challenges that can make it harder to build trust and take steps forward. We always seek to understand the underlying causes of these challenges and work with youth at their own pace and without judgement. Building positive relationships, having motivational conversations, and celebrating incremental change are key pieces to supporting young people.
The courageous young people who seek out support to build a better life are their own experts. Working from a place of empowerment means trusting that expertise and ensuring they are engaged in decision-making that affects their lives; that they have platforms and spaces to speak up and share their perspectives; and that their voices are embedded in our formal and informal structures and organizational processes. The Youth Leadership Council is just one example of how youth empowerment is integral to our work. Learn more about their work here or read their latest letter in our Annual Report.
our values & Culture
It's who we are.
As our organization grows and the needs of youth change, our values and cultural commitments remind us to focus on those we serve, and to build positive environments around all of our supportive programming.
Choices for Youth strives to be a model for diversity and inclusion, and our Board Members, staff, volunteers, and program participants reflect the many faces, cultures, identities, abilities, and walks of life that make up our province. We are a learning-centered organization that values the perspectives and contributions of all people, and strive to incorporate the needs and values of diverse communities into the design and implementation of inclusive programs.
We respect, value, celebrate, and welcome racialized people, all sexual orientations, women and trans* people, Aboriginal and First People, Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, people with mental illness, and those from all social strata.
We identify as allies with:
- The feminist community
- The LGBTQ2S* community
- The Indigenous community
- The disabilities community
- The movement to end racism
- The movement to end violence against women
- The movement to protect religious freedom
- The movement to end poverty
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
- The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, including Housing as a Human Right
Act with empathy and kindness
Choose to see the potential
Cultivate safe, inclusive spaces and promote diversity
Work hard, with boundless ambition and strategic excellence
Inspire hope and create opportunities that empower
START WITH WHY
Putting young people first
Being champions for social justice
Connecting to our individual sense of purpose
CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER
Feeling like family
Building relationships based on trust and respect
Understanding one another through conversations
Responding to changing needs
Striving to learn continuously