History

The Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre Inc. - EGADZ has been operating a Youth Centre in downtown Saskatoon since April 2nd, 1990 that has become better known as EGADZ.

 

The development of the Youth Centre began in 1988 with discussions regarding “hard to serve” youth among various agencies under the catalyst of the City of Saskatoon, Leisure Services Department.

 

Initial discussions determined that there was a need to collaborate among several agencies to address the needs of “hard to serve” youth. The agencies agreed that there was a need to address programs in the following areas:

 

•     Education and Life Skills

•     Health and Counseling

•     Food and Shelter

•     Recreation/Leisure/Culture

•     Employment and Work Readiness

 

Within these areas it was determined that a Drop-In Youth Centre was needed that should include two significant mandates: hangout space and recovery therapy. All of the various agencies involved were already addressing some aspect of “hard to serve” youth and wanted to work together to take a leadership role in providing alternative programs for “hard to serve” youth.

 

Following several months of dialogue, a survey of “hard to serve” youth was conducted through the inter-agency group, through this initiative some conclusions as well as a working definition of “hard to serve” youth were established.

 

    TARGET POPULATION

 

The initial inter-agency group formed to address the problem of youth hanging out downtown. The survey they undertook gave information on gaps in services provided by existing agencies as well as identified still unmet needs. The inter-agency group agreed to define “hard to serve” youth as follows:

 

Definition of “Hard to Serve”

 

“Hard to serve” youth shall mean youth, less than 20 years of age, who hang out more than three days a week downtown and are addicted to the streets although they may not live on the streets. They are “at risk” of being non-productive members of society and live in an “at risk” environment. Their lifestyle indicates they do nothing of quality in their leisure time.

 

Conclusions were drawn from these discussions and the survey results included the following:

 

The Saskatoon community has a significant percentage of its youth who would be considered “hard to serve” youth, which translates to approximately 2000 individuals based on demographic information.

The issues and needs of this target population are complex with diverse social problems that require a variety of programs and services.

Youth hanging out in the downtown core are not confined to any single cultural or ethnic group, however youth of First Nations and Metis decent have certainly edged out other ethnic populations.

A long-term strategic approach in helping youth identify their dysfunction and recovery process is required as there is no quick fix to the problems many youth face. It was worthy to note that a “band aid” solution was deemed unacceptable as it could jeopardize a successful long-term strategy.

Many “hard to serve” youth are not being reached by existing services.

Over 70% of the youth surveyed affirmed that they felt a need for a Youth “Drop-In” Centre located in the downtown area.

Approach: It was determined that an interagency, non-profit organization known as the Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre Inc. – EGADZ should be developed to set up a “Drop-In” Centre that would be established in downtown Saskatoon with an emphasis to address the issue and needs of “hard to serve” youth.

a) Drop-In Component: It was deemed that the Youth Centre provide a place where youth could spend time with their friends, away from an “at risk” street environment. Alternative leisure lifestyles would be introduced to the target population so that a change in the quality of their leisure time could occur.

b) Recovery Therapy: The Youth Centre would become the catalyst for recovery programs that would assist “hard to serve” youth in finding more productive solutions to the issues and needs in their lives that caused a gravitation to an “at risk” lifestyle.

The uniqueness of this approach is to have each agency that works with “hard to serve” youth become involved with the Centre to allow the Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre Inc. – EGADZ to be better equipped in identifying and initiating therapeutic treatment for this target population, through other agency and staff participation.

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