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O4AY co-hosts its first virtual youth summit

April 27, 2020

O4AY co-hosts its first virtual youth summit


In partnership with the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity (CCYP), Opportunity For All Youth co-hosted its first virtual youth summit on April 2nd, 2020.

The online summit welcomed over 175 youth and industry experts from across Canada. The purpose of the summit was to create an open space for dialogue with Canadian youth to understand how they were impacted by COVID-19.

Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity, Director of Youth Engagement, Christopher Duff pointed out that while business and non-profit organizations were talking about how they’ve been impacted, youth had been left out of the conversation. He added that the purpose of the summit was also to understand how organizations can better support youth throughout the challenges brought on by COVID-19.

“We want to harness the creative prowess of youth out there, Duff said.

The summit was broken down into three segments: the youth panel, the sector voice and youth ideas.

A panel of six youth across Canada shared their experience of how COVID-19 affected their professional and personal lives.

Experiences of impact ranged from missed professional opportunities, loss of income, feelings of isolation, anxieties around missing school and the future of their academic career, to loss of community and safe spaces, grave concern for family members around the world and seeing a rise in racism and racially charged violence.

“Not being able to see the people I usually see for six hours a day, five days a week…it really hurts,” said Caleb, a Grade 12 student who had his high school classes cancelled.

“Covid-19 has catapulted us into a position where we have to acknowledge each other’s humanity,” said Habon, a final UofT student and member of the prime minister’s youth council.

“Unfortunately, all my speaking events were cancelled. I got a really big one with Google that I was super excited for and my income from that was cancelled,” said Janelle who earns income as an equity, diversity and inclusion consultant and public speaker.

Representatives from United Way Youth Chapter, Colleges and Institutes Canada, LinkedIn and CAMH shared their strategies on how to cope through the pandemic and opportunities that they can leverage during this time.

Taking online courses, growing your network, reaching out to organizations for skills training resources and leveraging on mental health supports online was some of the advice voiced from the sector representatives.

Duff stressed that this is only the beginning of a very long dialogue that CCYP and O4AY will continue to facilitate.

“If there is one thing you take from this conversation, let it be this: this is just the beginning,” he said.

“We can become the megaphone that can really amplify and champion [your insights] throughout the sector,” said Duff to the youth.

Stay tuned for more developments on how O4AY and CCYP is continuing the conversation with youth across Canada about the impacts of COVID-19 and the barriers they’re facing.

Watch the full video here:

Click here for a list of employment resources that were shared at the summit.

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