Programs aim to help teens build confidence
For some people, photography is a hobby or a pasttime, but for the youth at the non-profit organization LOVE Quebec, it is a way of connecting with their emotions and expressing themselves. The organization’s Media Arts Program, which enrolls hundreds of youth in dozens of schools every year, invites young people to explore their feelings through photography, writing, and journaling. The aim is to gain confidence by developing one’s emotional intelligence, which includes being self-aware, having the ability to identify and regulate emotions, show empathy, and have social skills.
LOVE, which also has chapters in Nova Scotia and British Columbia, offers other programs for youth all over Montreal as well as online to the Indigenous community of Waswanipi.
The organization was founded by Sheila “Twinkle” Rudberg, whose husband died at the hands of a 14-year-old boy in an act of violence. Twinkle realized that the teen was a victim of violence as well and started LOVE with a mission to reduce youth violence in our communities.
Apart from its Media Arts program, LOVE has three other main programs:
The Leadership Program offers workshops on public speaking, writing, and social issues in order to empower youth to become agents of change by embracing their voices and giving them a platform where they can feel heard.
The Sexology and Sexual Education Program offers workshops to help youth develop their knowledge of issues such as body positivity and consent while following the curriculum required by the Quebec Ministry of Education.
The Athletic Media Arts Program adds a health and wellness approach by addressing one’s emotions and feelings through physical activity and team sports.
Offered in schools and youth centres, a growing list of schools request programs every year and the organization’s coordinators work with educators to see which ones best fit the school.
Programs are offered in 12- or 24-week sessions, and coordinators go into schools weekly to give workshops. There are also after-school activities and workshops for youth from all over Montreal, which can be found on the organization’s social media accounts.
“Mental health challenges among young people have been on the rise, even prior to the pandemic,” says Robyn Dalton, the executive director at LOVE Quebec. “Rates of anxiety and depression are increasing, and these can have detrimental effects on a young person’s ability to thrive and pursue their dreams. That is why our work is so important today.”
If you think that your teenager would benefit from one of the programs, visit LOVE’s website to see if they are offered in your child’s school.
LOVE relies on grants and donations from the community to be able to offer its free programs and activities. “So whether you are able to donate directly or spread the word about the important work we do, we are always grateful for the support,” Dalton said.
For more information, visit loveorganization.org.