Youth for Inclusion
Youthopia RISE UP Cast
“Moving to a new school is difficult enough for youth, now imagine being new to the country, city, neighbourhood, and having to function in a second language”, says Roya Rabbani, Executive Director of Immigrant Services – Guelph Wellington.

Each year, through its various programs, Immigrant Services Guelph Wellington serves more than 900 newcomers to Guelph and Wellington, many of whom are youth. Youthopia engages newcomer youth through the arts such as spoken word, drama and media, while building their leadership skills and broader engagement in the community.  The Guelph Community Foundation's Building Vital Communities grant made this unique program possible. 

What does it mean to the participants? Youthtopia’s RiseUp! poster said it best:... "life is no longer about hiding in the shadows or trying to get by – it’s about laughing and crying, and all the things in between; it’s about the opposite of disappearing. Watch as we come out of our cocoons...”

Over a period of six months, participants met in the programming room of the Guelph Public Library and at the Guelph Youth Music Centre to work with trained youth facilitators. This process led to a core group choosing to work on a live production. Intensive rehearsals led up to the event held at the Guelph Youth Music Centre on March 24, 2012, honouring the International day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Another group continued to meet weekly to work on smaller arts projects. Youth also participated in community and civic engagement activities such as singing Oh Canada to open a City Council meeting; meeting with MPP Liz Sandals and learning first-hand about leadership and civic engagement. All these activities add up to newcomer youth being able to experience the positive outcomes of being more actively involved in the Guelph community.

Photo above: Youthopia RISE UP Cast