Healthy Living

Reaching out to refugee youth in the GTA

by Victoria Alvarez

Settling in a new country as an immigrant youth can be a scary and confusing process. But for refugee youth, these same feelings are heightened twofold. The UN Refugee Agency notes that challenges for refugee youth include difficulty acquiring skill-building opportunities, lack of participation and engagement opportunities, and fewer youth employment opportunities. But the Y’s Newcomer Youth Leadership Development (NYLD) program is here to help.

NYLD assists newcomer teens to overcome settlement barriers and helps them to develop a positive and healthy identity in Canada. This summer, NYLD will be launching a new program location in the Thorncliffe community. In collaboration with the Together Project, (a project of Tides Canada), NYLD will run a 7-week intensive summer program open to all refugee youth ages 12–19. The Thorncliffe program will work to address settlement barriers and help youth to feel welcome and engaged in their new home.

Launching July 4th 2017, the Thorncliffe program will provide leadership training, meaningful volunteer opportunities, field trips to multiple city hot spots, weekly interactive workshops focusing on settlement support and skill building, and the opportunity for youth to plan their own community service project. The Thorncliffe group will collaborate with other NYLD program locations for special events such as Sports Day on July 21st, a Blue Jays baseball game on July 24th, a celebration for International Youth Day on August 11th, and a family picnic at Kelso Conservation Area on August 19th.

“We are very excited to be able to expand our program and welcome refugee youth from the Thorncliffe community to our NYLD family,” says Leora Sas van der Linden, manager of the Newcomer Youth Settlement Programs. “Summer can feel long and isolating if you don’t have any plans. By joining NYLD, refugee youth will have the opportunity to meet new friends, explore their new city, develop their leadership skills, and get involved in their new community.”

To find out more about this exciting new program, contact Leora Sas van der Linden at