Youth summit another success

Some 65 youth were here for four days of education, recreation, and culture as the third-annual United Native Friendship Centre youth summit got underway last Thursday.
“It went smoothly. I was hoping it would be bigger but it still lived up to my expectations,” said youth worker Erin McMahon, who co-organized the summit along with Raylene Johnson.
“I think this one was a bit better organized than last year. And the community, and the Friendship Centre, were really generous and supportive,” she added.
“And as far as I know, everyone had fun.”
While most of the youth who attended were local, some came from as far away as Thunder Bay and Toronto. The latter group performed a skit as part of an open discussion about bullying, led by youth worker and former local resident Ryan McMahon.
While some activities, such as canoeing and tubing on Saturday, had to be cancelled due to the rain, those attending the summit were treated to workshops on leadership, employment skills, racism, fetal alcohol syndrome, and peer pressure, as well three personal accounts on drug and alcohol abuse.
“Those touched a lot of the kids. A lot of them were tearing up,” noted Erin McMahon, also one of the presenters.
But education aside, she thought the conference also was about building bridges between youths.
“I think the karaoke night [Friday] went over well. The youth from Toronto were kind of shy and kept to themselves but once everyone got singing, they really came out of their shells,” McMahon recalled.
Other highlights including a drum ceremony, attending NDP leader Howard Hampton’s pancake breakfast Saturday morning at the Sister Kennedy Centre, downtown shopping, and a dance.
Most of the activities were held at the UNFC’s youth centre (616 Mowat Ave.), including the closing ceremonies, which took place Sunday morning.
The summit was sponsored by the Northwestern Health Unit, the district Substance Abuse Program, Betty’s, the UNFC, and the OPP’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program.

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