Every Thursday evening in the P4Y art room, 20 or so youth gather and let their creative juices flow. On a typical night, one youth is in the hallway quietly strumming on a ukulele. Inside, youth are sitting around tables painting, needle felting, knitting and drawing. In the music room one youth is wailing on the electric guitar as another accompanies on hand drums. All the while, youth are laughing and talking to each other over the noise.
As I look around at this beautiful chaos I think to myself “I can’t imagine doing this on my own.”
I am so incredibly lucky to have several dedicated volunteers who attend the art group every week. As a team, we spread out throughout the art room so we can give each youth attention and support. A few weeks ago, it was a busy night in the art room. But amid the chaos, Dana, one of our volunteers, was sitting with one of the youth who has been having a really hard time recently. The youth broke down and started crying as she began to talk to Dana about how lost she is feeling. Dana sat quietly and listened intently despite all of the distractions around her. For that moment, it was as if this youth was the only person in Dana’s world.
I can only imagine how rare it is for this youth to feel so cared for. Many of the youth in the program do not feel like they have a caring adult in their lives who they can trust. Not long ago, I overheard some of the youth talking about other agencies in Ottawa. One youth said “I’m sick of workers and counselors. They don’t care about me.” The other youth said “Yeah, I used to think that no one cared about me, until I came to art group. They actually care how I’m doing.”
I’m so grateful for the art group volunteers for not only showing up and helping out, but for helping these youth feel loved and cared for.