Watching a movie with friends. Playing Connect 4. Taking a watercolour class. Strolling through a museum.
Thulasi, recreation coordinator at Eva’s Satellite, says finding connection and purpose comes in many forms—and they’re equally important.
“Most of the youth we help at Eva’s have not had the chance to experience swimming or music lessons or playing a sport. Recreation enhances everyone’s lived experiences and makes life feel easier. It’s very powerful.”
Thulasi aims to provide programs and resources to help bolster youths’ confidence and feel empowered to speak up for themselves and make their own decisions. Many young people accessing programs and services at Eva’s identify as Black, newcomers to Canada, and/or 2SLGBTQ+. Due to cost, location, capacity limits, and discrimination, they may have had limited access to opportunities for recreational activities growing up and continue to face barriers to access now.
Through our programs, we strive to create an inclusive and supportive environment that supports youth in discovering their passions.
Thulasi developed a framework consisting of five pillars that guide recreation opportunities based on the unique needs of the youth we serve. These pillars serve as a foundation to create meaningful experiences and support their overall well-being. They include:
- Wellness – Drumming, paint nights, art therapy, and music therapy
- Movement – Access to the YMCA, dancing, swimming classes, recreational sports, and trips to SkyZone
- Entertainment – Movies, mini-golfing, laser tag, and spectator sports
- Technology – Learning using technology like laptops and tablets with graphic design programs
- Community – Visits to the Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Science Centre, Toronto Zoo, Casa Loma, cooking classes, and city walks
As youth sign up for activities, Thulasi encourages them to identify what they like best and make it part of their everyday lives.
“For many of our youth, this is the first time they’re being given a choice of what they want to do and how they want to express themselves. Most pick up at least one thing they love and build self-esteem and confidence. They start to feel like they’re doing something productive with their time and that’s very important for them.”
Recreation also builds connections among youth, helping create a much-needed community. “We see a sense of unity when youth do things together. It’s clear that it’s improving mental health and well-being.”