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Toyota donation will help YMCA revitalize local youth spaces and programming

In addition to their $120,000 gift, Toyota is also donating various technology for youth programming
Screenshot 2022-04-12 9.10.53 AM
From left to right: Lynn Hall, Chantelle Moore, Derek Kidnie, Peter Sweeney, Mouhamad Wardeh, Ibti Saeed, Sadam Alnasan, Melissa Haynes, Michelle Fischer

Thanks to a champion gift of $120,000 from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Waterloo Region youth drop-in centres at YMCA of Three Rivers’ locations are going to be ready to welcome Youth back, following the pandemic in a big way. And, more than that, area youth are having their say in creating the spaces where they want to hang out and belong. 

Creating spaces and programming where youth want to connect is hard and rewarding work. “Thanks to the support from Toyota, youth will drive the creation of these new spaces, by being involved in each step of the design and co-creation of the new youth space,” says Melissa Hayes, Leader Youth Programs, YMCA of Three Rivers. “By empowering youth to make decisions about what they want to see in the spaces, it creates a sense of ownership and belonging for them, and most importantly, lets them know their voice matters.”  

While the Teen Drop-in Zone at the Chaplin Y is open and airy, the space at AR Kaufman is dated, and the Stork location is currently just that – a space. The funds from Toyota will change this. The injection of funds will see not only a retrofit of the existing spaces (including furniture and equipment upgrades), but also the creation of:  

Maker Spaces – featuring the technology youth need to learn, grow, explore, and create, giving them a competitive edge in a growing entrepreneurial workforce  

Activity Room – with games and features for youth to just hang out and be themselves  

Creative Space – including all the materials needed to encourage creative exploration and expression  

Counselling Spaces – boasting cozy furniture and calming sensory equipment to allow youth to safely share with youth workers 

Kitchen Space – allowing for the expansion of family-style meal programs, which for some participating youth is the only home cooked, sit-down meal they have for the week  

In addition to their $120,000 gift, Toyota is also donating various technology for Youth Programming. “These in-kind donations have the capacity to be so transformational for our participants, says Haynes. “It gives our participants access to the tools they need to be successful in school and beyond.”   
“One of our core values at TMMC is Respect for People. With this donation, I’m happy that we will be making a difference in some very important people’s lives: the youth in our community. Providing a safe space for youth is an important way to ensure a thriving community,” says Derek Kidnie, VP Administration, TMMC. “We truly appreciate the difference that the YMCA makes for our future generations, and we’re thrilled to partner with them on this project.”

“Getting youth into spaces is a vital first step to providing access to the programs and services they need to succeed,” says Peter Sweeney, CEO and Leader, YMCA of Three Rivers. “Many of the youth these outreach programs serve would otherwise not have access to these resources, meaning Toyota is bridging important gaps in our communities. They’re helping youth build new skills and explore new interests. Perhaps most important, they’re standing with us as we tell regional youth that they not only have a physical space where they belong – but they are valued members of our community.”