Back 2 Basickz Youth Support Services opens in Scarborough

By Lincoln DePradine

A municipal politician has pledged his support for an organization that’s begun offering programs – including counselling, mental health services, employment training, and mentoring and educational tutoring – mainly targeting youth residing in Scarborough.

Michael Thompson (2nd from left) with Back 2 Basickz team_ Amanda Coombs and Stachen Frederick from right

“Welcome to Scarborough; it’s an amazing neighbourhood. We’re delighted to have you here,’’ Michael Thompson, City of Toronto Councillor for Scarborough Centre, told representatives of Back 2 Basickz Youth Support Services on Tuesday.

Thompson was attending the newly opened Back 2 Basickz office at 880 Ellesmere Road.

The organization’s presence in Scarborough is an expansion of its service outreach, and part of what is called its Black Youth Outreach United (B-YOU) Project.

Back 2 Basickz, whose founder and executive director is Amanda Coombs, was established in 2013 and has been operating in the Jane and Finch community.

“It’s an absolutely amazing organization,’’ said Stachen Frederick, executive director of Frontlines – Weston Frontlines Centre – a charitable agency serving vulnerable children and youth, ages six to 29, in the Greater Toronto Area.

Frederick, in collaborating with Back 2 Basickz in the service expansion, will serve as a mentor to Coombs and her Scarborough team.

Back 2 Basickz has been doing “great work’’, Frederick said.

The B-YOU Project that now encompasses Scarborough is being supported by approximately $1 million in funding, over five years, from a crime and violence prevention program of Public Safety Canada, a federal government department.

The Back 2 Basickz services, including post-secondary school guidance, job shadowing and entrepreneur workshops, are “culturally sensitive’’ and “culturally appropriate’’, Coombs said.

Back 2 Basickz, she explained, wants youth to know that, “regardless of their circumstances or where they live, they could be anything that they want to be’’.

Thompson, a six-term city councillor, commended Back 2 Basickz on setting shop in Scarborough.

“I’m happy that you started somewhere and I’m happy that you’re growing and expanding your reach across the city,’’ said Thompson, who also underscored the importance of investing in youth.

“The future is theirs,’’ he said. “But, it’s only theirs if they have the right tools and they have the right training and the right foundation, and the ability to feel confident about taking on things.’’

Young people are “smart and articulate’’ but they need “guidance, a helping hand and a safe place, and role models who can help them to achieve’’, Thompson emphasized.

“There are so many young people that are in need of the services that you offer; in need of services to inspire them, to give them hope, to ensure that their spirits are not amputated by the lack of opportunities that are not there for them.’’

Thompson promised his personal support for the work of Back 2 Basickz. “I will be there to help,’’ he said. “I’m looking forward to working with you and to bring people in the community to support this great initiative.’’