Belonging

A trip to Kelowna with several youth

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from students over the last few months:

“ Life is great because I finally have a place where I fit in. Everyone here is so accepting, I’m so happy to finally fit in somewhere.”

“It was my first time here tonight, and immediately when I walked in the room I felt safe. I don’t get that feeling anywhere, not even places I’m already comfortable, so I will definitely be coming back.”

Over the last few months I have been thinking a lot about belonging. What does it mean to belong? How important is it for us, as humans, to have that sense of belonging?

Studies within Canada reveal that 25-30% of Canadians, throughout the different age groups, are reporting persistent loneliness or social isolation. This is most common in adolescence and young adults, along with elderly people. To me, this number is crazy! That means more than one in every four people do not have somewhere or someone they can connect with. 

The other thing that I found interesting while looking into this is the health Problems that different doctors, specialists, and organizations are starting to link to the lack of genuine relationships. Some even claim loneliness could be a bigger health risk than smoking or obesity. Research has found that loneliness can raise the level of stress hormones in the body, which can increase the risk of heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and suicide attempts. To me, this is a reminder that people were made to be in relationships; they were made to be loved and to know that they belong. 

This is why I am so passionate about the work I’m involved in at Youth Unlimited. Together we are creating these spaces of belonging and acceptance. Whether you are supporting a youth worker financially or as a support system through prayer or other means, you are creating change. You are impacting these young people first hand and you are the reason that these youth have somewhere they belong. It is easy to feel that you are separated and not really helping “that much” with what you have to offer, but I just wanted to remind you that I could not do this without you, and I am so thankful for the love and support you have shown me.

Thank you for your continued support, in whatever capacity that might be.

- Amy Seiler

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