SYDNEY – Christmas has arrived early for the Cape Breton Youth Project and Santa has brought them a new two-story office space in downtown Sydney.
Located at 20 Townsend Street on the corner of the Esplanade, the brown brick building is directly across from the new Marconi Campus of Nova Scotia Community College.
And it’s three times the size of the former office of the George Street nonprofit, which was permanently closed during the COVID-19 pandemic while program coordinators and community educators worked remotely.
“I was only looking for one-room desks that we could afford,” said Bradley Murphy, an educator with the Youth Project who has been tasked with researching possible locations.
“The building was designed in the late 1970s, early 1980s by architect Bob Ojolick and they carefully designed the beauty. There is artistry inherent in its design which I think really compliments our community. “
Two weeks ago, Cape Breton Youth Project’s Programs and Education Coordinator, Madonna Doucette, decided a new office was needed, now that the province is in the process of learning to live with COVID.
The 20 Townsend location is owned by their former owner at 440 George Street, Dimitri Neonakis, who Doucette says seems happy to have the nonprofit in the building that also houses a real estate agent on the third floor.
The space is more than the staff at the Cape Breton Youth Project could have dreamed of. And it’s a space that gives them the opportunity to create some of the programming that they thought they could only dream of.
“I hope we can exist as a Youth Project as a community center or community center for the first time… we have acted as a community center,” said Mitch Hill, Youth Project educator.
“Now that we have that and our team has grown so much, maybe we could have some regular times in the evening where you can just skip… It’s a type of program that a lot of kids want and want. really need. “
SEX, GENDER, INCLUSION
The former office space of the Cape Breton Youth Project was 700 square feet and it housed the Cape Breton Center for Sexual Health.
Before that, Doucette’s office was a windowless room in the basement of the Cape Breton Ally Center.
The new Youth Center is 2,100 square feet, with lots of natural light, several offices and outdoor garden boxes.
Housing the main and lower floors, there will be an art room, kitchen and possibly a shower and utility room. Doucette plans to offer life-skills programs, such as cooking and gardening, to the youth who attend the center.
“I am so ‘the mum’. ‘ So I would really love to teach kids the basics of cooking. I would really love to teach kids how to sew a butt or hem pants, “said Doucette.
“These are great skills to have in your back pocket and we assume that all the kids in Cape Breton come from these comfortable families who are really supportive. This is a mistake we tell ourselves. Not all kids come from. ‘a loving home and these skills aren’t always taught. “
Doucette believes that teaching these life skills helps fulfill their mandate as much as their 2SLGBTQIA + education program.
“If we can plug the holes in some of these things that will help launch these young people into a more comfortable and stable future, it will fulfill our mandate to make Nova Scotia a happier, healthier and safer place for our young people.” 2SLGBTQ, “she said.
A room on the ground floor without a door will initially be used as an information space, where brochures on gender, sexuality and other 2ELGBTQIA + issues can be consulted easily and discreetly.
“This will be a place where you can get the answers to just about any question you might have if you don’t want to talk to us,” Hill said.
Future plans include creating a sound booth and 2SLGBTQIA + community art exhibits, where people can purchase the work.
The Youth Project space will also have an office for the Center for Sexual Health, as well as an office for Pride Cape Breton for meetings and storage.
“We hope to make a difference in people’s lives here,” said Doucette, as excited as a kid at Christmas for the opportunities offered by the new space.