Picture a cold, winter day in Edmonton–wind blowing, snow falling, temperatures far below freezing. The average person is bundled up in their winter jacket, weather-proof shoes or boots, and is on their way to somewhere warm, like work, where they’ll spend most of the day. But then you see a young person who looks about 17 years old. He is wearing worn out, ripped shoes–they would be inadequate on the warmest of days, let alone in the -20 degree elements of an Edmonton winter. And unlike everyone else you see, he isn’t on his way to somewhere warm.
That single encounter that a local social work student had with a young person who was wearing inadequate footwear in the middle of winter, sparked a conversation amongst front line youth workers about the hundreds of young people in Edmonton who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness. Something had to be done to connect these youth to a support network and resources that would empower them to change their circumstances.
Recognizing many of the barriers that these young people face, a few workers decided to come up with a way for them to access what they need, all in one location on the same day. Youth were surveyed and meetings were held to gather input about what would make the day a success. Planning then began, and in 2014 the first annual YEG Youth Connect took place!