By Micah Yabut & Olivia Hood
Although it may not be as visible in Richmond and Vancouver, many youths in our community live in poverty. Studies have shown that as of 2020, 1 in 5 children that live in BC, live in poverty. This does not necessarily mean they live without a home, in fact it has a lot more to do with the small impacts. Some effects that are not talked about often include behavioral changes and health problems.
Many families who live in poverty have noticed their children have a hard time concentrating in class, are disruptive, or lack communication skills. These may result from a deficiency in nutrients that their parents are unable to provide them with, or a poor sleep schedule from the stress caused by living in their conditions. There is also an unavailability of extra curricular activities as the parents cannot afford to pay for them. While many of the children have interactions with classmates at school, a lack in extra curricular activities can cause a big gap in the development of their social skills and ability to explore their interests. In addition, signs of depression and anxiety have been known to show up in children that frequently change schools because of the constant change in lifestyle. Any child would struggle facing these adverse conditions, and just because you may have not personally experienced it, it doesn’t mean youth living in poverty doesn’t affect an entire community. There are many ways we, as youth, can help those in crisis in our communities and below we have listed resources that can assist you in lifting up others around you.
The best ways to help those less fortunate than us include: donating to reliable and upfront organizations, participating or starting your own fundraisers, and volunteering in the community for either larger organizations with helping youth in poverty as their main goal, or joining smaller groups which have the same core values as you and are working towards a common goal.
In our experience, joining a youth-led leadership group in our community has provided us a way to help other less fortunate youth around us, as well as put us in a setting with other motivated, passionate, and hardworking individuals. Being a part of C-Change, a group focussed around mental health and social justice, has given us a window into the lives of others in our area. Throughout 2020 and 2021, we completed numerous initiatives in Richmond, including one where we created and provided care packages to youth living in foster care in our community. That experience allowed us to help youth in poverty and unstable living conditions at the same time as working as a team with peers to complete the project. Joining a group like this is something we would highly recommend as a way to connect to other youth around you, make meaningful connections in your neighbourhood, and ultimately contribute to a greater cause!
A Brief List of Resources, Websites, and Ways Anyone Can Help
This website is a database that lists volunteer opportunities in Richmond based on what you’re passionate about. Anyone can find leadership, board, and volunteer positions as well as mentorship opportunities. The site is easy to navigate and positions are categorized into subjects you may be passionate about including animal welfare, civil rights, the environment, and of course poverty alleviation! The only thing left to do is to create an account and start applying!
This organization offers health and social services to youth (aged 12-24) across British Columbia. Not only do they provide programs for those in crisis, struggling with substance abuse, and family situations, but also resources for more mainstream topics such as mental health, work and school, and active living. Their website provides opportunities to promote, donate, volunteer, and even work for their organization. This organization is more rooted in the prevention of youth going into crisis or poverty rather than directly dealing with the issue, but this is still an incredible resource to check out if you are worried about friends, family, or even yourself!
This organization focuses on preventing youth in foster care from becoming homeless and young mothers from losing custody of their children. Being in C-Change, we had the chance to partner with Aunt Leah’s for our care packages. We provided youth in foster care with essential items to prevent their interactions with poverty. Their website allows anyone to donate, volunteer, attend events and even support their cause through their own thrift shop. Aunt Leah’s allows you to make a direct impact on other youth in your community!
This organization is set up to provide services to specifically support youth (anyone under the age of 25) in crisis or those who are experiencing homelessness. There are many opportunities to participate in fundraisers, donate, volunteer, or even work in these programs which can all be accessed through the website. Directions provides an outlet to support youth in BC and also builds up local communities while always staying professional and judgement-free. If your friends, family, or even neighbours need help, make sure to reach out to them.
All of these resources are crucial in helping those in need in our community. Make sure to reach out, volunteer, and get involved!
Aunt Leah’s Place. (n.d.). Who We Are. Aunt Leah’s Place. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from https://www.auntleahs.org/about/
Davidson, H. (2013). Its Not Fair! The Face of Child Poverty in Richmond: A Call to Action. Richmond.
Directions Youth Services. (n.d.). About Us. Directions Youth Services. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from https://www.directionsyouthservices.ca/about
First Call. (2020, December). 2020 BC Child Poverty Report Card.
Foundry – Where Wellness Takes Shape. (n.d.). Who We Are. Foundry. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from https://foundrybc.ca/who-we-are/
Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives. (n.d.). About RCRG. RCRG. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from https://rcrg.org/WhatWeDo/AboutUs