It was a particularly rough start to the night at Innercity Arts. One of the youth had arrived in distress, suffering from a mental health crisis and inebriation. His behaviour was out of control and his health was in danger – so we made the decision to call paramedics.
Like so many other young people on the streets, this young man became afraid and agitated when he saw the flashing lights of police and ambulance. We tried our best to keep him calm and reassure him that he was safe. It was so difficult to watch as he yelled and struggled with the paramedics who were trying so hard to help him.
From the corner of my eye, I could see several peers from Innercity Arts watching quietly. I sensed that they were guarding their young friend, making sure he was not being mistreated.
When the ambulance left with the young man, I approached the group to make sure they were okay.
“I know that must have been hard to see your friend like that”, I said.
“Actually, we wanted to make sure YOU were okay,” one replied.
Surprised, I questioned “Me?”
“Yeah, you looked to sad. We just wanted to make sure you were okay,” one said.
“When I saw how upset you looked, I thought wow, you guys must really care about us,” another said.
It is amazing how one moment my heart was aching, seeing a young person in such distress. And in the next moment, I was being comforted by the very youth I was there to comfort! I am constantly amazed by the capacity young people on the streets have to show compassion and caring for others, even when they have so much going on in their lives. I am so thankful for this community.