2019 05  Developmental Relationships in Action Acton’s “The Seven Somebodies”
 

As part of the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) Grow Grant - the Halton Youth Initiative expanded into the communities of Acton, Aldershot and Milton in 2019. 

The Seven Somebodies (TSS) was established in May of 2019 at the Our Kids Network Community Hub - located in the MacKenzie-Smith Bennett (MSB) Elementary school. The initial team consisted of seven youth and community partners from a variety of organizations, at its peak 16 youth were actively coming to weekly meetings. 

This team was an emotionally intelligent, caring and boisterous group of young people. We had many grade 7 and 8 students volunteer with the team which was great to see! During the era before the COVID-19 pandemic, the team successfully completed a number of projects and campaigns that met the goals outlined by our project:

  • Goal 1 - Youth know more about local resources

  • Goal 2 - Community knows more about topics that matter to youth

  • Goal 3 - Advocating for positive youth hangout space
     

We were grateful for the ongoing support from our community partners and adult allies. Organizations that shared power and expanded possibilities with this team included the Town of Halton Hills, Our Kids Network, Halton Hills Public Library, Acton BIA, Positive Space Network, ROCK, Links2Care, Nelson Youth Centre, Halton Children’s Aid Society, Region of Halton - Public Health and teachers from both MSB and Acton High School. Special shoutout to the Town of Halton Hills Youth Service Network (facilitated by the Town) for their ongoing support and capacity building of youth-serving organizations. 

Numbers aside - the depth of the relationships and the shift of perspectives in both young people and the adults connected to this project is the true marker of success. This team spoke openly about their struggles with mental health, bullying and family matters. They were open-minded, hilarious, created safe spaces to share, and came up with incredibly creative solutions to community topics. The multitude of community partners who frequently supported this team really leave an impression that adults in Acton provide wrap-around services - unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in different communities. 

Examples of Developmental Relationships displayed by youth and adults on this team:

  • Expressing Care - We thank Alison Hilborn from Our Kids Network for her ongoing support and attention to the Seven Somebodies. Her warm welcome of Lily and the Seven Somebodies paved the way to beautiful relationships with others in Acton. Caring moments were common on this team - sharing snacks, writing each other strengths letters and taking pictures together showed a sense of comradery. We also cared about our community - often taking walking tours to explore the programs, services and green spaces in the Acton community. 

  • Providing Support - They developed their own unique name, a team agreement and each person found their role pretty naturally. While certain ideas made teammates nervous - like interacting with the public at the Kindergarten event or public speaking, in video clips for the HDSB, the team always cheered each other on, provided opportunities for youth to experience new things and truly pushed them to be stronger leaders. Challenge Growth - Both the youth and adults connected to this project challenged growth. Accountability was a big part of the Seven Somebodies key values. Working on tasks in pairs or groups of threes made for the perfect recipe to tackle group projects. No matter a person’s skill level or previous experience, in pairs and small groups volunteers could be both student and teacher. Additionally, all the moments of collaboration with our community partners

  • Share Power - The Town of Halton Hills consistently included the Seven Somebodies in decisions that affected them - in particular in the development of the new Acton Youth Centre. There is a separate blog that documents this ongoing collaboration. 

  • Expanding Possibilities - Many students on the Seven Somebodies shared their strengths and talents with us. Noah, Faith R and Mercedes all shared an entrepreneurial spirit and we were so happy to learn about their side hustles in landscaping and beauty products. Selena shared art talents decorating window display at the Acton Youth Centre and tie-dying t-shirts for our fundraising campaigns. Faith W and Jenna utilized their skills in jewellery making and crystal identifying to create excitement about our Crafting for a Cause campaign. And the list goes on - with gratitude we thank allies like Alex Hilson who provided space for us to sell our crafts and give back to our community. 

     

Team Mates included:

  • Owen Douglas

  • McBain Dynia

  • Noah Edwards

  • Stuart Furzer

  • Selena Gouveia

  • Annie Nascimento

  • Mason Phillips

  • Faith Romero

  • Mercedes Snyder-Park

  • Tyler Snyder-Park

  • Kyle Tuersley

  • Gabi Warford

  • Summer Warford

  • Faith White

  • Jenna Wittich

  • Jesse Wild

  • TSS Facilitator: Lily Viggiano