The Erin Mills Youth Centre started as a program of Erin Mills United Church in 1995 and was originally known as the Erin Mills Youth Outreach Program. The first activity was a summer drop-in for neighbourhood youth known as “Oasis Summer Camp”. Other community needs were identified and a daily hot breakfast and weekly homework clubs were added.
In 2006, members of church formed an Advisory Committee and submitted an application to the Ontario Trillium Foundation to increase the capacity of the Youth Outreach Program in order to employ staff and provide ongoing youth programs. One of the goals was the establishment of a youth centre. These processes led to the realization that the Outreach Program needed to be legally divested from the church, a process that led to the incorporation of Erin Mills Youth Centre as an independent non-profit agency with registered charity status in 2010. Ever supportive, the church continues to provide low cost rent for administrative offices including access to janitorial services, internet connectivity, and access to meeting rooms.
In 2015 EMYC initiated a process of reviewing its strategic plan. Five years into our existence as an independent youth agency we have come to realize that change is an ever-present reality. And this change needs to be driven by youth. Our experience, research and best practices all point to the imperative of having youth at the centre of the planning and implementation of activities and programs—of our direction and purpose. We are thrilled to have youth on our staff, youth in our leadership structures, and celebrate with youth the achievements they are realizing.
Erin Mills Youth Centre is on a journey—a journey of learning and of discovery. In particular, we are transitioning from being a youth-serving agency to become a youth-driven one. We believe that adult-youth partnerships provide the foundation for empowering youth to advocate for themselves and their community in order to create a brighter future. We look forward to sharing our experiences and discoveries along the way.