Three year project targets at-risk youth

Some 500 youths across the GTA are now knowledgeable to help others bring about positive changes with respect to gender-based violence and community safety.

With funding through organizations such as the Status of Women, the City of Toronto and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) ended a three-year project working with young people in marginalized communities.

Last weekend, the UARR brought together participants and a number of community representatives at a conference titled Making Noise to explore manifestations of violence they face using art forms such as multi-media expressions and spoken word performances.

The conference, which was held under the themes, learn, act and heal, was aimed at providing a space to explore interactive, practical, artistic and healing ways to address and prevent gender based-violence

According to President of the UARR, Gary Pieters, the project participants will go back to their respective communities and share their expertise. “The young people are given the tool and they are empowered and they in turn go out and empower others in their community, it’s a train the trainer type of program.”

He added that the participants were gathered through outreach to partner agencies and groups. “They were able to attract young people from different areas. They looked at gender-based violence and oppression. They looked at the effects of gender based violence, using media, poetry, video and photography in various camps, so it was a very intense three-years,” he told the Camera.

At the community conference, which was held at Ryerson University’s Oakham House participants were engaged in workshops such as community safety and policing, community accountability, and how to work with young men on addressing gender- based violence.

Meanwhile, the UARR is involved in a number of other projects according to its president. “We have a 28-month gender-based violence prevention project in partnership with Humber College, that’s ongoing. We have a youth engagement project in Rexdale.”

Pieters said the UARR is also working with about 30 community-based organizations on violence prevention in response to guns violence stemming from the now infamous ‘summer of the guns’.

“We are working on how to engage in building healthy communities and safer neighbourhood and how they can provide opportunities for young people, whether it’s through workshop, through apprenticeships, access to employment and different things. We meet on a regular basis to look at what the organizations are doing to engage young people in a meaningful way,” Pieters said, adding that they are looking at ways to prevent gang and violence.