The Joy of Learning and Ottawa’s Youville Centre

by DaniGirl on December 15, 2012 · 0 comments

in Life in Ottawa, Reviews, promotions and giveaways

As you know, we receive toys for review a couple of times a year from Fisher-Price, and other months they provide information or inspiration for us to use in our blog posts. This month, they’ve done something completely different and have offered to donate our December toy shipment to a charity of our choice.

How much do I love this? (Answer: a LOT!) As soon as the offer came in, I knew which charity I wanted to choose. I needed to settle a score that has been gnawing at me all year long.

Way back in January, in advance of Kindness Week, I was invited to tour the Youville Centre. I was genuinely blown away by the amazing work they do, by the programs and the staff and the volunteers. I was also deeply touched by the young women who attend the Youville Centre and their efforts to make a better life for themselves and their children. But, despite my best intentions, life got in the way and I never did write the blog post I wanted to. So here’s my chance to redeem myself and FINALLY tell you about this amazing organization.

The Youville Centre has been providing education, childcare, parenting instruction and support services to teenage mothers in Ottawa for 25 years. It provides accredited on-site high school education programs for the mothers and licensed day care for their children as well as a host of other support programs. When I thought about Fisher-Price’s emphasis this year on the Joy of Learning theme, it really did seem like the perfect fit!

Here’s a little bit about the work of the Youville Centre in their own words:

While the mothers are in school, their infants and toddlers are enrolled in the on-site day care. The children benefit from a quality early childhood learning program that addresses the social, emotional, cognitive, language and physical needs of each child. Nutritious meals and snacks are served daily.

Staff provide crisis intervention and counselling, advocacy, and referrals for current students, clients on Youville’s waiting list, and former students. A young father’s program is also delivered at Youville. It consists of a weekly support group, parenting support, individual counselling and a father/child drop in.

Through the Youville Centre, many young parents have obtained high school graduation diplomas. Several have gone on to college or university. Others have entered the world of work to enjoy rewarding and profitable employment.

The Youville Centre is opening doors in the lives of the young women it serves. Not only do they provide educational programs and child care, but they provide life skills and practical support like co-op programs, and even resources for finding a job.

I was 32 years old when Tristan was born. I kept thinking about that as I toured the Youville Centre, trying to wrap my head around the idea of being a pregnant teen or mothering a newborn and trying to go to school at the same time. I also thought about the first few months I lived away from home when I was 18, in the weeks after I graduated high school and moved across the province. These were two of the hardest periods in my life, marked by depression and feelings of isolation, and the idea of them happening consecutively? I simply can’t imagine what that must be like. I can only thank the grace of God that I didn’t have to worry about abuse or poverty, or how to do my homework while juggling a newborn, or where to go for help if I needed it.

As I toured the Youville Centre, I was deeply touched by the work of the staff and volunteers. They are sympathetic but firm, compassionate and kind. The centre is a bright, open building that feels very much like an ordinary high school, until you see the wee babies being cuddled by staff and volunteers in the nursery while the mothers attend classes. I was happy to be able to donate a Fisher-Price Snugabunny Bouncer and another small toy to the nursery. I think the bouncy chair was the single most useful bit of baby gear we had when the boys were wee, and this one looks so cosy I wish I could curl up inside it!

The Youville Centre would love to have your support as well. There are many ways that you can help! Got stuff? They always need diapers (especially in sizes 4, 5 and 6), clothes for teens (both work and casual style), running shoes for teen girls, clothes for babies and kids up to size 6, and board books. Here’s a full list of what they can and cannot accept.

Got time? Volunteers are an integral part of running a non-profit organization like the Youville Centre. If you can help, there’s information and an application for volunteers on their website.

And of course, the Youville Centre would be grateful for your financial support as well. They are a federally registered charity, and so your donation is fully tax deductible. They’d be happy to accept your donation on line or even on the phone – there’s more information on their website about financial donations.

Thank you to the Youville Centre for the tour way back in January, and for the great work you do in our community. And of course, thank you Fisher-Price for the donation and the opportunity to let me redeem myself and shine the spotlight on the wonderful Youville Centre.

And finally, thank YOU to all my generous and kind readers. I hope the holidays fill all of your lives with blessings!


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