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Dartmouth North Youth Engagement Informs BtB Work

the graphic recording of the meeting serves as a backdrop to a series of sliver-images of youth

Below are some captured elements from a powerful engagement with youth in Dartmouth North held on June 15. The organizers were Kayley Dixon and Rach Derrah, graphic facilitator.

Some of the youth want to be given the opportunity to play more sports than basketball – they’d like a hockey league, and they feel stereotyped and pigeon-holed.

Rach Derrah was the graphic facilitator.

In total, 19 youth aged 12 to 20 participated in a session facilitated by older Dartmouth North youth at the Boys and Girls Club. Their discussion covered a wide range of topics. The youth were open and candid, more than willing to share how they were feeling.

There was a sense of relief at the space finally being created to hear from them about how they were. Those who had been labelled “trouble” said they were tired of being “bad” kids and felt like they did not belong anywhere. They shared experiences of being asked to leave spaces they went to and that they’d like a space where they felt a sense of belonging.

Some of the youth want to be given the opportunity to play more sports than basketball – they’d like a hockey league, and they feel stereotyped and pigeon-holed. They also shared a story of playing basketball at the school on a weekend and five squad cards arriving because a neighbour said there were trespassers at the school.

Multiple avenues were given for the youth to speak: some spoke out loud, others wrote how they felt on paper, anonymously. Others who had difficulty with writing and spelling and were self-conscious were offered the opportunity to have their thoughts captured by a scribe. The attention and understanding given to all the different life experiences and context they showed up with were reflected in the sense of safety and expression that was exhibited throughout the evening.

Youth requested a block party on Lahey Street and a future discussion.

The Economics of Youth: Prom Case Study

Part of the discussion was around the economic challenges of a ‘normal’ youth experience like prom.

Prom is unaffordable and therefore inaccessible to some Dartmouth North youth. However, there is stigma associated with not attending, or not being able to afford to attend even if one wanted to. Here is a rough breakdown of the costs based on one girl’s experience. None of these are outrageously outsized expenses, and they reflect the expectations of the event:

Hair + makeup (someone local) – $150

Dress (purchased in Bridgewater) $460

Mani/pedi- $150

Corsage – $15

Prom + grad + yearbook fees approx $140-$200

(Graduation photo package would have been $120+ but I didn’t end up buying it)

Threw the after party at an Airbnb and split with 2 friends, that was about $200 for food/drinks/Airbnb costs. All that is not necessary, but is part of the usual experience. That’s not including a driver–I was lucky enough to have a friend who was provided a car.

This was in 2019, before Covid and all of this inflation going on.

Realistically, the expectation is that you spend between $1000-$2000 on prom. I’m not sure how anyone could spend less than even $500 to just get the basics. I know some people whose dresses were $800+. I worked almost 30-40 hours a week in high school so was able to better afford my prom, but not everyone can do that. I know people that aren’t going to prom this year because they can’t pay for it.

Read the results of the three public consultations in Dartmouth North here.

Images in header from Pexels.com

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