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Youth Work

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What does it look like to be a Youth Worker?

It looks like walking the hallways of a high school and connecting with students throughout the ups and downs of their day.

It looks like attending an awesome early morning breakfast club for youth who do not get fed breakfast or families who can’t afford a strong meal for their kids to start off the day. It may look like hanging out and serving bagels, but it means having the opportunity to interact with hundreds of students each week. It means that these youth have a familiar face to connect with and, as we build trust, I may be that someone who can walk alongside them through the hard times.

It looks like joining the humanitarian club at the school, to help interact with youth about issues facing our world and to work alongside them to help make positive changes as we give back to the community.

It looks like leading new projects.  In September, I began leading our new Student Life initiative.  Our team recruited students from across th…

Things I've Overheard

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‘Thanks to Youth Unlimited, I can now make eye contact with men. I never had a safe male figure in my life before.’
‘Wednesday’s are my family. This is my safe space.’
‘Church isn’t safe. [The hangar] is safe.’
‘I stay at school as long as I can because it’s too hard to be home.’
‘I guess I should start considering that God may be real.’
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of praying for a student who wanted healing from their childhood relationships with their family. They did not believe in God but felt they were at a place where they didn’t know what else to do. That same night, I listened to a student share with me how home was no longer a place where they wanted to be. The situation there had become too overwhelming and they chose to stay at school as late as possible in order to avoid facing home.
A week earlier, a co-worker of mine helped to diffuse an anxiety attack a student was experiencing as they felt as though all of their safe places were crumbling around them. When it…

On Behalf of Danny

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Several times per week I find myself thinking about how much tenacity and patience it takes to dedicate one’s life to working with youth. That’s how often I find myself thinking of my Youth Unlimited friends: Danny, Derian, Jon, Savannah, Rachel, Amy and others who have gone before them... they might not all know it, but they are family to me.

My friendship with Danny Ferguson dates to 2009. He has walked alongside me through many of the most difficult moments of my life, always listening, praying for me and challenging me. My life would be in shambles without his friendship.

At some point in 2015, Danny asked if I would be interested in volunteering with youth at “The Hangar”. He noted to me, “it might not be your thing”, warning me ahead of time of some of what I might experience; raw and uncensored, broken families, abusive situations, self-harming, angry, confused, depressed, the gamut. Undeterred (I spent a chunk of my youth growing up in a trailer park of prostitutes and heroin…

November Prayer Requests

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- please pray for our Spiritual Life program as we walk through the Just Us training videos
- prayer for a student whose Grandpa and Uncle are dying
- prayer for a student who had a unique encounter with God - pray that they continue to be curious rather than run away or ignore
- prayer for the students going through our Student Life program - pray that the students would be challenged to grow and encouraged with how far they have come
- prayer for a number of us who are currently fundraising

A Month of First's

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This last month has been a season of firsts for me in the world of youth work.

Several weeks ago I had the privilege, so to speak, of entering into a student’s home to mediate a conversation between them and their parents. This was my first experience as mediator. There are times when teenagers are not sure how to communicate the deep emotions they are encountering and it can come out in the form of misbehaviour or not caring, which can often create frustration in the home. I was able to spend an hour with the family as they unraveled their emotions and thoughts and the parents listened. I was used as a bridge between them and their family, reiterating what they were saying in different words so both parties could clearly understand each other. The family was thankful for the open conversation and the student was able to move a little bit closer to a healthier state.

Another first for me was to have the privilege of attending and speaking at a Community Partner meet and greet at the …

In This Together

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After a recent night of programs, my coworkers and I sat around a camp fire to debrief. With it being October now, the cooler weather gives us an excuse to pull out the propane heater after all the dust has settled on the busyness and craziness of the evening.

It had been a full night to say the least:
-A group art project
-A yelling, cursing, chasing match between two teenage girls
-My car getting toilet papered by my kids from Grove
-A talk about grace for teens who have experienced none
-A bad anxiety/panic attack
-Tons of laughter and fun
-3+ hours of bus driving around Langley getting teens home

Like I said, a full night. However, not entirely unusual.

Often our program nights can leave me asking ‘what just happened?’, as if a wind storm just swept me up. Over the course of the night it feels like my role adapts depending on who I’m talking to. With Brendan, I’m a big brother. With Alex, a safe caring male in her life while all the others aren’t. To Lanna, a voice of experience …

Love Casts Out Fear

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For the last nine years I have had the opportunity to speak in Planning 10 classes. This week I spoke to approximately 250 grade ten students at Mountain Secondary School. It took me 3 days to get through all of them with each presentation taking about an hour. It is some of the hardest but most rewarding work I do.

I always tell the students I’m not interested in telling them what choices to make but rather in helping them understand why they might be making choices that don’t fit with their own convictions. A significant part of my presentation is making it safe enough for students to anonymously share their struggles with the rest of the class. It usually boils down to fear and insecurity:

“I’m afraid my boyfriend will break up with me if I don’t…”
“I’m afraid of disappointing my parents so I…”
“I’m afraid my friends won’t like me if…”

Because fear’s greatest weapon is secrecy and isolation, it can be incredibly powerful to speak your fear out loud for others to hear and even more…