How does O-YA do it (run a successful rural youth centre for more than a decade)?
A peek behind the curtain.
O-YA has been in operation continually for more than a decade - and we get better every year! We get asked all the time what our secret is; how do we do it? We decided to compile a few lists of some of the secrets of our success. If you have questions the following lists don't answer, please email email@example.com and we can chat!
Top 10 Tips for Running a Successful Youth Centre
1. Part of The Plan
We think that youth centres should be part of the plan when Villages are planned - just like parks, school, grocery stores and recreation centres. At the moment, this is some pretty ‘blue sky’ thinking!
2. Great Staff
This is a must. You can’t have a great youth centre (even if you have nailed all the other elements) without a great staff team; Management / Programming / Front Line.
3. Dedicated Space
One of O-YA’s greatest strengths is having our own building. It is also a significant help that this is a City of Ottawa building, available at no cost to us.
4. Welcoming Surroundings
You can’t run a great youth centre in an unwelcoming space. Youth will feel most comfortable in a place that looks like somewhere they want to be, and makes them feel welcomed just by coming inside.
5. Fantastic (flexible) Programming
You need programming that is fun, builds skills and supports mental health - all while being something that attracts youth. Creating fantastic programming is an ongoing challenge. What works in January probably won’t work in April.
Diversity! Grants, help from all 3 levels of Government, United Way - and most importantly - your own revenue. This one will likely be your biggest challenge. Unfortunately the more youth centres there are, the harder this will be.
7. Staff Training
Staff should have the training they need to do their jobs safely and effectively. Great training includes: First Aid / CPR, Three Pillars of Youth Work and mental health training. For more training suggestions, see next topic below.
8. Reliable Policies & Procedures
It is critical to decide how you are going to handle problems and challenges before they arise - or at least have an effective way to create policies and procedures in a timely manner as new issues emerge.
A great youth centre is not built in a short amount of time. It took O-YA many years to find our groove, and gain the trust of the youth.
10. Keeping Connected
You can’t do a great job of this alone! Connect with the Ottawa Child & Youth Initiative, City of Ottawa / Ottawa Public Health, Provincial Government, Federal Government.