The Armoury Resource Center is a vital space for our youth because it is a safe space to have autonomy, choice, and safety without judgement. Developmentally, youth are emotionally needing to have autonomy and control over their lives and choices while rationally still needing support and guidance from parents to use their emotional decision-making skills in a healthy and productive way. It’s a complex time that precariously balances their emotional wants with the practical expectations of school, home or community.
The Armoury Resource Center is a place where youth can come and breath and take a moment to focus their energy and time on what is needed to survive that day. They have the autonomy and choice to identify where they are at and what they need in that moment. This could be accessing support workers for questions or answers, access resources available to meet their goals, having a place to stay safe when the outside world is scary or threatening, or even just finding a place to connect with other human beings without judgement. As trauma affects the development of the youth, the resource center has to adapt to ensure that we are there to walk beside the youth as they try to understand, accept and navigate this trauma they have experienced. The biggest strength to ARC is that we help build up trust and relationships with the services and systems that our youth have to exist within, whether it’s medical needs, mental health needs, children’s services, government supports, income supports, education, or more. We help them understand their fears and traumas with these services and build up capacity to navigate these systems, all within a safe space they can breathe in.
When COVID-19 hit our communities, places like our ARC are even more vital because most hangouts and safe spaces closed and shut off access to safety zones for the youth. Whether needing space from unsafe families, or needing a place to hide from unsafe peers, or finding a space that will occupy and entertain you while you build up the capacity to make changes in their lives; youth need a place they can exist and still feel safe and supported. Having online programming and resources available across the community is amazing, but it means nothing if it is not accessible. In COVID-19, our focus had to adapt and shift to finding ways to be accessible for the youth; to help them have access to spaces to have accesses to resources or basics needs. Having the ARC opens means we are reducing the youth’s exposure to community contact with COVID-19 and still meeting their developmental needs.