Te Mauri - Pimatisiwin

Impacts of a Peer Support Program for Street- Involved Youth

 

 

Abstract

 

Homelessness is a growing problem in urban centres. The well-documented overrepresentation of Aboriginal peoples among the homeless in Canada makes it a particularly relevant issue for this population. Some of the most vulnerable homeless are youth who are at special risk for gang recruitment, prostitution, and exploitation. The Links program began in 2005 as a three-year project bringing street-involved youth and university students together to increase understanding, foster supportive relationships, and enhance the knowledge and skills of each group. Emphasis was placed on recruiting Aboriginal youth to the program. As a result 50% of street-involved youth who took part identified as Aboriginal. Qualitative evaluation data were collected via surveys, written assignments, and in-person interviews. Findings suggest the program created intense bonds between students and youth. Stereotypes were identified and broken down and youth were empowered to broaden their perspectives on what they could achieve. Both groups gained knowledge they can use to build a better future for themselves and their communities.
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