This is what youth need to succeed: Lucy’s blog

This was published in the Calgary Herald as a letter to the editor on April 15, 2013:

A new report released by Alberta’s child and youth advocate this month illustrates why it’s important for all of us to share responsibility for the success of our youth.

The advocate found that youth in government care have trouble transitioning to adulthood. They need better access to programs, stronger connections to supportive adults and increased resources. Unfortunately, these challenges aren’t restricted to youth in care. As United Way indicated in our 2011 report, Towards Resiliency for Vulnerable Youth, other teens in Calgary face these same barriers.

In response, United Way developed a vulnerable youth strategy, with an emphasis on building and strengthening connections to supportive adults. One year in, we’re seeing promising signs. We hosted a conference on the subject last fall and the local response was overwhelming. Our community is eager to take this on.

This is new work, with few models elsewhere to follow. United Way has invested in three agencies (the Alex, Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area) which are developing innovative ways to help youth make these vital adult connections. I believe our community has the imagination and determination to succeed.

By working together, Calgarians are leading the way, ensuring all youth can transition into their brightest possible futures.

—Lucy Miller is President and CEO of United Way of Calgary and Area.