Over the past weekend, Helping Hands was fortunate enough to attend the Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) Launch Summit. The Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) is an annual program that provides grants and capacity building supports to youth-led grassroots groups and community-based organizations serving young people who face multiple barriers to economic and social well being. The Summit allowed many organizations from across Ontario to sit down and discuss where are, and what needs to be done to continue to grow and create a positive influence on society.

Opportunely, Helping Hands’ grant fell among the Grassroots stream. The Grassroots Innovation Stream creates opportunities for grassroots groups and youth-led groups to implement their bold ideas for how to shape and strengthen their communities. It is a chance for these groups to build skills, grow their networks, and to respond to issues in new and inspiring ways. Being among many organizations provided each of our team members an opportunity to have a safe environment to discuss feelings and ideas as we enter a new chapter of being community leaders.  We were able to create this safe, welcoming environment through team-bonding activities and open conversation.

Throughout YOF’s Launch Summit, we were invited to learn and understand the significance of the land we were fortunate to be on. Embracing in the indigenous culture, we were able to experience sunrise ceremonies, nature walks, and drum circles. We had the opportunity to stay at a location falling into Treaty 18 division. Treaties between the British government and Indigenous peoples were negotiated and signed with the intent of delivering mutual benefits. Helping Hands is thankful for an insightful and spiritual experience.

Through this summit we were able to meet and speak to various other grantees. Among many of the fascinating organizations was The Film Stars Project. The Film Stars Project is a youth led organization that works with young people living in underserved communities leading them through the various aspects of understanding film production. Helping gained much insight and is excited to see the growth of these organizations in the coming years.

Helping Hands is embarking on a new journey to delivering a project to offer volunteer training workshops for racialized and newcomer youth, as well as youth with disabilities, to increase volunteer opportunities and engagement in Halton-Peel’s social services sector. Volunteering allows us to enrich the world with new ideas and positive change and Helping Hands is humbled to play a role in doing so.

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