The library’s Youth Hubs can at times be loud and chaotic with teens laughing, yelling and playing games. An observer would quickly see that these kids are having tons of fun. But more than just hanging out, they are making new friends in a supportive environment. Research shows that there are many benefits for teens who have positive friendships. Healthy friendships help teenagers feel accepted and confident. Friendships help teens feel supported and provide a sense of stability during the turbulent teenage years.
The Toronto Public Library’s Youth Hubs provide teens with free activities, workshops, healthy snacks and homework help during the after school hours. There are Hubs at Centennial, York Woods, Cedarbrae and Sanderson branches. The program is so popular that new Hubs are opening at Fairview and Maria A. Shchuka. The Hubs are located at branches in Neighbourhood Improvement Areas where extra social services are needed.
The teens who go to the Hubs, the staff who run the program and the volunteers who help, all have high praise for the program. “I’d be at the library anyway, but at the Hub, I get to meet new people and learn new stuff,” said Kimani Donaldson a participant at the York Woods Branch in the Jane Finch neighbourhood. Returning hub participant Danielle Spring got help with her science projects which led to higher grades. “A beautiful thing about the Hub is its diversity. Here, young people from various age groups and backgrounds have the chance to meet and learn from each other,” said a Hub volunteer.
The workshops offered at the Hubs are particularly popular. Last year teens got to try out DJing, gardening, photography and drumming. One of the participants interviewed credits the resumé-writing workshop with landing a summer job. Kayvine Pathak, a Youth Hub volunteer believes that, “The workshops show the kids what’s out there, exposing them to new things, showing them what’s possible.”
Donors help support this valuable program. But more funding is needed. The library staff who run the programs would love to be able to provide more activities and supervision. The teens would like to go on trips within Toronto, have more workshops and get more computer experience.
You can help support programs like Youth Hubs by donating to the Toronto Public Library Foundation. Whether you choose to make a one-time gift or give monthly, your support will help teens like Kimani and Danielle develop friendships and learn new skills that can help them into the future.
If you’re interested in becoming a Youth Hub volunteer, please click here.
Special thanks to Jenna Liu and Aleksandra Majka, the Youth Hub coordinators at the York Woods Branch.