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A home away from home for youths in crisis – Toronto

TORONTO – Each year more than a thousand young people in York Region go to a drop in centre called Home Base, which is part of 360 Kids, an organization dedicated to helping kids in crisis get to a place of safety and stability.

“We wanted to create a space that didn’t feel like a school, hospital or a institution,” said Michael Braithwaite, executive director of 360 Kids.

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Home Base is a welcoming and safe environment where youth connect with staff members to assist them with life skills, counselling, employment, housing assistance and mentor ship.

Michael said that Home Base is a drop in centre, not a shelter, but it still provides all the support needed.

“We have kids that are no longer welcome at home because they’ve expressed their sexuality; we have kids that because of cultural clashes are no longer welcome at home,” said Braithwaite. “We have kids who just need someone to listen and a lot of things are happening at home where they might need a little help around that, that push them into homelessness and we’re there when that happens.”

Youth between the ages of 13 to 24 can go to Home Base Monday through Friday from noon to 8 p.m. They can grab a snack from the fridge, talk with staff, watch television, play outside, or use the computers.

Every day at 4:30 p.m. a hot meal is served, “sometimes it’s the only meal the kids will get,” said Sabrina Molinaro, manager of programs for 360 Kids.

Sabrina said that, through recreation, the staff is able to build relationships with the kids, “the youth will start to open up, start to share things with staff, and then, at that moment, staff will capitalize on it and use it as an opportunity to teach or to continue to build that trusting relationship.”

Sabrina believes that kids are our future, “so us as adults and as community members need to do what we can to guide them, and to shape them so that we have a better tomorrow.”

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