Picton Library home of safe LGBTQ+ youth space

Starting Thursday,  LGBTQ+ youth have a new safe space to gather in Prince Edward County with funding for a six month pilot secured from the Greater Than: County Youth Collective.

The project is launching to address the concerns of County youth.  A recent report written by county youth, convened by Prince Edward Learning Centre and the Greater Than Youth project outlined the challenges facing LGBTQ+ youth locally-Youth who too often continue to feel stigmatized, afraid, isolated find they are without the supports they need in the community.

The youth determined two priorities for action: 1) ongoing training for adults providing services to youth to deepen their understanding of the issues facing LGBTQ+ youth. 2) A queer positive,  space where LGBTQ+ youth and their allies can meet.

Professional development began earlier this spring with over 30 service providers gathering to discuss the issues, ask questions and commit to strengthening supports in the community for LGBTQ+ youth.

“It’s clear that when we work together the sum of our collective work is greater than what we can accomplish on our own” said Greater Than project Coordinator Kristin Wheatcroft.  

The new drop-in space for LGBTQ+ youth addresses a need in the community.

“LGBTQ+ youth deserve a space where they can feel safe to be themselves and enjoy all of the same activities as our peers: we want a space where we can talk, make art, play music, play boardgames, without fear; where we are respected for our strengths and celebrated for our differences.” said  advisory member, Curtis Jeffery.  

The successful funding proposal, written by youth with the support of PELC ensures that youth will continue to have a leadership role in planning and decision making as the project moves forward.

Click here to read the whole article by Picton Gazette.

Elton John Extravaganza continues timeless fight for freedom

On Friday Picton’s Regent Theatre hosted Rocketman, described as “an epic musical fantasy about the incredible human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years”.

The movie was preceded by an Elton John Extravaganza, which took place in the lobby of the historic theatre.

People were encouraged to attend the event with the advice to “be your most fabulous self”.

Many who attended were dressed with the characteristic freedom of expression that Elton John so flagrantly espoused.

Feathers and fabric of all colours of the rainbow adorned revellers who mingled before what was described as an “eye-popping and powerful” movie. Clothing racks adorned with an eclectic array of garments were available for guests to wear with a small donation.

All proceeds from the movie and otherwise were to be donated to the new LGBTQ2+ drop-in space at the Picton Public Library.

Set up at a booth near the front door, collecting donations and doling out information, was Skylar Gray, co-organizer of the new youth drop-in space, who took a moment to speak with the Gazette about this important initiative.

“The LGBTQ2+ drop-in space stems from a survey done by the Greater Than County Youth Collective,” Gray explained, “This survey found that LGBTQ2+ youth were doing less well in emotional and mental wellness. One thing the youth really wanted was a safe space. We started this through some funding. We’ve been trying to get the ball rolling for a very long time,” noted Gray.

Click here to read the whole article from Picton Gazette!

Greater Than Collective developing support mechanisms for local LGBTQ+ youth

Community members who came together for the first Inclusive Spaces training in PEC

Over 30 people representing more than 20 local agencies that serve youth met at the Bloomfield Town Hall Wed. April 17 to learn more about the issues facing LGBTQ+ youth and discuss what the community can do to better support them.  

“Our goal today was to create a safe and respectful place, for people who work with youth to ask questions and to learn about the issues – with the intention of challenging the homophobic and transphobic attitudes and assumptions that hurt our youth” said  Greater Than: County Youth Collective facilitator Sharif Mahdy.  

What is it like to be a teenager questioning your sexual identity in Prince Edward County? What happens if you want to hold hands with your girlfriend on Main Street Picton when you are also female? Where do you go to ask questions when you are second guessing  your own gender and also studying for grade 10 math in a small community?  

Until recently, it was only those LGBTQ+ youth in Prince Edward County who had to think about these scenarios and the answers to these questions.  

A recent report by Prince Edward Learning Centre (PELC) documented some of the hardships facing LGBTQ+ youth in Prince Edward County; youth who experience bullying, who feel isolated and without the supports they need to come out and be empowered to be themselves. 

Click here to read the whole article from the Picton Gazette.

Youth wellness report in Countylive.ca

Skylar Gray and Kristin Wheatcroft“A snapshot of Prince Edward County’s youth identifying struggles they face and what they need to succeed has been presented as part of an on-going community research project.

Over the past year, the ‘Greater Than: County Youth Collective’ interviewed more than 70 Prince Edward County youth aged 12 to 29 to create a ‘Youth Wellness Report’. The collective was formed out of a project by the Community Foundation from its 2013 Vital Signs report that identified education as an issue in the community.

The collective includes Prince Edward County youth, educators, youth-serving agencies and community organizations.

Results of the report were presented at a drop-in feedback session for youth held in Picton last week. Representatives from a youth team of community partners explained findings and in an informal, relaxed space, ideas, thoughts, worries and opinions were encouraged, shared and brain-stormed through talking, writing and drawings…”

Click here to read the whole Countylive.ca article about Greater Than from September 18, 2018.

Survey Results in Picton Gazette

Greater Than Picton Gazette“The numbers are in when it comes to Prince Edward County’s youth.

The Greater Than Youth Collective, a group of local youth, youth serving agencies, educators and community organizations organized and fostered by the County Foundation released two years worth of data pertaining to young people in Prince Edward County Wednesday at St. Mary Magdalene Hall in Picton.

The public display featured data collected over a two-part, two year survey exercise that will hopefully lead to a gradual raise in secondary school graduation rates in Prince Edward County.

Utilizing a holistic approach that identifies several support pillars that surround a successful education path, GTCYC are hoping to create a community culture that embraces learning and personal development and enables all youth to reach their potential with the ultimate goal of having secondary school graduations rates on par with the provincial average by 2028.”

Click here to read the whole article from the Picton Gazette from September 17, 2018.