Archive for May, 2015

Donor News: Legal Coordinator Ralph Helps Youth Navigate the Effects of Racial Profiling

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Legal coordinator Ralph shows the Know Your Rights pamphlets

Legal coordinator Ralph shows the Know Your Rights pamphlets

 

A police report commissioned after the death of Fredy Villanueva, a youth killed by police in 2008, found that Black youth in Montreal are eight times more likely than white youth of the same age to be stopped by the police. This comes as no surprise to Legal Coordinator Ralph, who helps youth navigate the effects of racial profiling in his Know Your Rights workshops. We spoke with Ralph about the reality of racism in Montreal and the importance of empowering youth in knowing their rights.

H&H: What examples of police racism have you come across in your work with youth?

Ralph: I’ve spoken to a lot of Black youth who’ve complained about getting tickets for loitering in the metro while the white youth around aren’t getting ticketed.  My role is to take their experience seriously, share resources, and help them explore different ways they can respond. And if they want legal advice, I can connect them with our volunteer lawyers.

What makes you uniquely positioned to run the Know Your Rights workshops?

I have a paralegal degree, and I’m also a person of colour with lived experiences of racism. This helps me to understand what the youth are going through while being able to provide the theory, history, and context behind it.

What does a typical workshop look like?

I try to keep it fun and interesting. We role play in costume: youth dress up in uniforms with hats and badges. Going through scenarios and teaching youth their rights each step of the way means that if they’re presented with a similar situation in real life, they’ll feel less afraid and be able to stay calm and be assertive. I also teach youth how to take pictures and record conversations, identify police and ask them for their badge. By the end of the workshop, the energy in the room feels lighter. Many youth share personal stories, and say it’s a therapeutic experience.

Workshops happen every 1 to 2 months, when the need is there. There’s also a Know Your Rights video series on our YouTube channel, plus pamphlets and cards at our office and on our website.

Ralph is available to support youth with a variety of issues – from profiling, to housing, divorce, and more. Our legal services receive no dedicated funding, meaning they’re supported entirely by donors like you!

 

Donor News: “Your Body is Okay!” Our Sense Project Coordinator Talks Body Diversity, Beauty Standards, and Sexual Performance Anxiety

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Gab, Sense Project Coordinator

Gab, Sense Project Coordinator

 

Ontario’s new comprehensive sexual education curriculum, revised last year, shows just how much Quebec is lagging when it comes to equipping youth with the information they need to make empowered sexual decisions.  Since sex education was effectively removed from the Quebec curriculum in 2005, rates of STIs as well as dating and sexual violence have risen steadily among teens. For the past ten years, youth volunteers trained through Head & Hands’ Sense Project have been working tirelessly to fill the gaps by leading workshops on gender and sexuality, safer sex, and consent to youth in schools, group homes, and CEGEPs.

This year’s most popular workshop explores questions of body and genital diversity, society’s beauty standards, and sexual performance anxiety. According to Sense Project Coordinator Gab, one of the ways through which today’s youth are exposed to unrealistic beauty standards and sexual expectations – and one of the topics they’re most eager to talk about –  is porn.

“The reality is, youth are watching porn, so we need to be having frank discussions with them on how a lot of mainstream porn is made,” Gab explains. “It’s a performance and what’s not shown is communication and consent.”

Gab also discusses how porn can impact body image and expectations: “Makeup is used to change the colour of genitals, but our workshops set the record straight: genitalia come in all shapes and sizes, and can range from pale pink to dark brown. Casting, editing, and filming make it so bodies look and perform in a very specific way; so we talk to youth about having realistic expectations of their bodies and their partners’ bodies.

The response to the workshops has been incredibly positive.  For many youth, it’s their only opportunity to ask burning questions to peer-educators, knowing they won’t be judged! There’s a strong need for more workshops, but resources are limited. “These days, everyone’s budget is limited, so we don’t always get paid and we’re often underpaid for the workshops we give; but we don’t turn down an opportunity to give much needed sex education for youth, even if we have to do it for free.”

The Sense Project depends on community giving, which means that we need you to help this project expand and reach more youth. As Gab explains, “There’s nothing like seeing the sigh of relief from a youth when you tell them their body is okay.”

 

SEEKING FRONT DESK VOLUNTEERS!

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Passionate about youth empowerment, harm reduction, and holistic legal, social, and health care services? Love NDG? Love Head & Hands? We need your help!

Head & Hands is looking for committed, open-minded, and enthusiastic volunteers. You are likely up to the task if you are invested in non-judgmental, anti-oppressive, and social justice approaches to community-based programming and community building.

Specifically, we are seeking front desk volunteers to work in conjunction with our office coordinators. Tasks will include working at our front desk (approximately 6 hour shifts, 1–4 times per month), directing clients to the appropriate Head & Hands service, providing referrals and information about other Montreal organizations, and acting as first responder for clients in need of support and crisis intervention. As a front desk volunteer, you will also have the occasional opportunity to help out with programming, projects, and events.

Think you might be interested?

We offer a 30-hour training program for our front desk volunteers aimed at introducing you to Head & Hands’ diverse clientele and approaches to meeting their needs. Past training has included workshops around harm and risk reduction, crisis intervention, active listening, de-escalation skills, and the history of Head & Hands.

Still interested?

Ideal applicants are:

  • Age 17 years or older
  • Able to commit to 6–20 hours per month of volunteering
  • Able to commit to 6–12 months of volunteering
  • Available for a regular shift, weekday daytimes and/or evenings
  • Fluent in English and spoken French
  • Available for training session workshops in the evenings and on weekends in July

Still considering applying? Here is a testimonial from one of our front desk volunteers about their experiences with the program:

“Volunteering at the front desk of Head & Hands makes me feel like a part of my community. I look forward to my shifts! Head & Hands is the best and volunteering at the front desk is great.”

 YAY! You’ve decided to apply!

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Please complete the volunteer application form by June 14th at 5 pm. Selected candidates will be contacted for an interview shortly afterwards. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Devon and Linda at info@headandhands.ca, or call (514) 481-0277.

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SAMEDI IN THE PARK!

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Summer is in the air, with buds on the trees and birds chirping. On June 13, we’re inviting our whole community to join us for Samedi in the Park – an afternoon of food, music, fun, and conversation about the role of youth in NDG!  It’s all happening right in the middle of Girouard Park, at the old wading pool.

From 12:00pm until 3:00pm, come enjoy a delicious BBQ, meet our new Director, and learn about the many different ways H&H works with young people make this community more healthy, vibrant, and caring. Plus, be a part of our community planning process, and help us build our vision for the future!

From 3:00pm until 5:00pm, fuel up on FREE snacks prepared by cooks from our Young Parents Program, and join our Annual General Meeting to get more details on the past year at H&H and elect the new Board members who will help make all our dreams come true.

All through the day, we’ll have games, art, and musical performances by some of this city’s most exciting youth talent. Right after the AGM, stick around for an extra-special headline performance that will blow you away, and dance with us to celebrate another amazing year!

5:30pm – SPECIAL HEADLINE PERFORMANCE BY MATT HOLUBOWSKI !!!

This event is open to EVERYONE, and we will have free child-care available throughout the day.

ARE YOU A MEMBER? If you’ve accessed services, volunteered your time, or made a donation in the past year, then YOU are a member of Head & Hands eligible to vote at our AGM. To get on our voting list, get in touch with the Coordinator of the program you accessed or volunteered for, and let them know you want to attend – or if you’re a donor, just show up (we’ve already got your info)!

ARE YOU NOT A MEMBER?  We still love you, come celebrate with us!!!

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Please join us in celebrating Paul’s memory

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Last month, we were extremely saddened to share the news that our dear colleague Paul passed away suddenly on Friday April 3rd, 2015. Paul was one of our two Street Workers, and provided on-the-spot support to NDG youth where, when, and how they needed it. His dedication, empathy, and joy were both infectious and inspiring. The loss of this unique and wonderful person is deeply felt throughout the many communities Paul touched with his light.

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Please join us in celebrating Paul’s memory and time with us. On Tuesday May 26th, we invite community members to gather together to plant seeds around NDG – in honour of Paul’s impact on the neighbourhood. The seeds we will help support and nourish bees contributing to environmental and community wellbeing; philosophies that embodied Paul’s work and represents Head & Hands’ approach to holistic health.

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There are a number of ways to participate in this memorial:

  • On May 26th you can join us at 5833 Sherbrooke West (our main office) to pick up seedbombs as of 2pm. You are invited to join a small walking group that will leave around 2:15pm or you can grab the seeds and commemorate Paul in your own way.
  • We will give out seeds until they run out – so if you can’t make it on the 26th and would like to participate, give us a call and if we have any left we would be happy for you to come get some.

 

If you need support, we invite you to please call us at our main office at 514-481-0277.  

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