Supporting Our Youth (SOY)

“Youth Mentorship” Grant

2001 2004

For lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgendered youth, the struggles of identity and acceptance can weigh heavily upon personal development. As these youth take those early steps towards adulthood, many are marginalized because of their sexual orientation. What’s more, the lack of acceptance by their families finds some driven out of their homes and forced to make do on their own.

These are the sorts of challenges that have inspired the growth of Supporting Our Youth (SOY), a program operated by the Sherbourne Health Centre that’s committed to helping and improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgendered youth. What SOY does is help these youth recognize that they are part of a larger community, one with which they can connect and rely upon to help. Through their support network they comfort, guide and provide opportunities to succeed in hopes of nurturing selfesteem at this critical time in life when many are on the cusp of adulthood.

The Counselling Foundation of Canada’s grant was based in particular on one of the organization’s programs dedicated to matching youth with adult mentors. In many cases, the mentors chosen to work with these youth have suffered through similar circumstances. This helped to immediately establish credibility and build respect for the organization among the target audience. It showed them in very real terms what others have achieved when confronted with comparable circumstances. While these mentors aim to help these youth strive to be more and achieve more, it is not uncommon for them to also provide the youth with temporary accommodation if they are without homes of their own.

In helping youth to take pride in the work they do and the life they lead, SOY has managed to build its profile on a national scale.