THUNDER BAY – News – Special to NetNewsledger.com – On July 13th, 2011, the Regional Multicultural Youth Council (RMYC) organized a community barbecue and games for kids at Limbrick Place. The purpose was to engage residents in the neighbourhood to identify their priorities in regards to personal safety and the well-being of children and youth. The Youth Council had large sheets of paper with different headings by the BBQ for residents to write down comments and share their opinions.
For those who could not come, a team of youths went door to door to interview anyone who was home.
There was quite a good response to our presence in the neighbourhood. For the two hours we were there, (from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.) we served over 300 hot dogs and two pitchers of juice. Many kids came out, as well as young mothers and teenagers. We also visited every home to interview everyone who was there.
From the feedback, the situation at Limbrick Place is not improving. Having held a similar event in the neighbourhood two years ago, things are deteriorating. Many adults as well as some young people said that it is common to little kids running around and playing outside on their own day and night, until 1 -2 a.m. They feel that they should be supervised to ensure that they are safe and well protected. With broken glass, needles/syringes, broken bottles and litter everywhere, it is both a safety hazard and health risk for the young children.
The playgrounds at Limbrick are run down. The equipment is old, and worn down, and there is not enough to go round for the many kids in the area. The yards around the houses and parking lots need cleaning, and a general sprucing up of the area is needed to instil pride in the neighbourhood. There is a need to prevent the ‘broken window syndrome’ where things not repaired lead to more neglect, and kids growing up in such areas will just not care. They see this all the time, get accustomed to the setting and take it as normal.
The youth we talked to would like the playgrounds fixed, and involving them to clean up their neighbourhood would help. They are also concerned about violence. There is bullying, fighting, racism, and all sorts of crime. Alcohol abuse, drugs and gangs are a major problem. There are people partying and drinking day and night to the point of neglecting their children. Addiction is common and people use the little money they have to feed the bad habits at the expense of food and other basic necessities for their children. This causes more poverty and racism that traps the children in negative cycles, with no way out.
With poorly equipped playgrounds there are not that many good and safe places for kids to hang out. Thos with parents who can pay membership fees can go the Boys and Girls Club, and participate in programs organized at Vale Community Centre and elsewhere. But with poverty, addictions and different priorities many children are left to wander around.
There is a growing aboriginal population in the area. Many of the young families are affected by the legacy of residential schools. The children are suffering from the harm done to their parents or grandparents who were forcefully removed from their families to be raised by strangers in residential schools. The intergenerational impacts are passed on, and are taking their toll on lifestyles due to a lack of parenting skills.
The problems are obvious, and the thriving gang activity can be attributed to kids joining any groups to belong to some form of family with structure. It is therefore, not surprising that an overwhelming majority of parents who commented about curfews (86 percent vs. 14 percent) were in favour of putting a limit on when kids should be safe indoors. They lack skills to teach and discipline their children, and would like help to protect them. While others are concerned about the risks and consequences of trying to control teenagers, many feel that children need caring and structure for their safety and future success in society.
The negative press coverage at Limbrick about fights, drugs, gangs and murders in the neighbourhood still resonates, and many would like to move from the neighbourhood if there were other options. With the current housing shortage, and income-geared accommodation, people feel trapped to live in the area. At the barbecue, one young mother told us that she is trying to get her new-born baby girl who was taken away by child protection services when they learned that she lived in Limbrick.
According to her side of the story, the agency felt that the social environment there is not good for the well-being of the baby. Since she could not find or afford a home in another (better) area, she has been unable to get her baby back, and she wanted our help. If this is really the case, it says a lot about the City-run housing project which is now being regarded as unfit to raise healthy babies.
Conclusion: As mentioned earlier, the situation at Limbrick Place in regards to the safety and the well-being of children and youth is not improving. Houses, parking lots, playground equipment, etc. are aging and in need of maintenance and/or repair. Residents are concerned about security, and the well-being of their children, and want things to change. They have ideas of what should be done, but feel powerless to do anything about it.
Some residents want help and support to create a citizens’ neighbourhood committee to work with people to improve the area. But, it will require external support, guidance and resources to engage people to take ownership for those things they can be responsible for. Training is required to provide skills and enable them to consult with neighbours, assess needs, plan and organize activities to address priorities, and work with stakeholders for the good of the area.
As many parents told us, they need help to get things done. However, there is a sense of indifference, worthless, and hopeless that anything positive will be done to address issues since this is not a prominent area such a s the ‘Waterfront’. Many sat it is hard to access services to improve their lives. The youth also feel that no one seems concerned or interested to invest in activities and programs that will help to prevent them from getting into trouble.
We need to reach out to the desperate parents and their children to prevent things getting any worse at Limbrick!
Report by: Trent Campeau, Taren Desmoulin, Kay Ostamas, Quinn Spyrka and Martin Zhang
A. Top Safety Concerns In The Neighbourhood
1. Youth :
• Kids are out to late at night (1-2 AM).
• Young Children seen out late at night.
• Bullying amongst youth.
2. Dangerous materials:
• Broken glass.
• Electrical box’s left open.
• Broken Glass/Broken bottles.
• Needles laying around
• Parks ( hazards )
3. Lack of supervision:
• No managers watching
• Lack of supervision from parents.
•Animals not being cared for or watched by owners
• A lot of violence at night mainly with adults.
• Adults under the influence during day or night
• Break and enters.
• House parties.
• Intoxicated people hanging around
• Gang related violence
• Lack of Security at night
7. Education Concerns:
• Lack of Education
• Children and teens walking about or playing during school hours.
B. What Can Be Done To Prevent/Protect From Getting Into Trouble?
1. Games and Activities.
• Recreational equipment, etc.
• Organized activities.
• Interact with activities.
• Activities ( Day & Night ).
2.Peer Support and help:
• Playing with friends at the park.
• More outreach activities for kids frequently.
• More positive peer leaders.
• Eliminate/Change young offenders act.
• Games and activities from community resources.
• Youth centres.
• Recreation Centres.
• Soccer, cheerleading, street hockey, basketball, volleyball, playing with toys, arts & crafts, etc.
3. Parenting involvement and support:
• More parenting involvement with youth.
• Keep children inside.
• Parent counselling.
4.Security for community:
• Police control.
• Install Cameras in the neighbourhood.
• Fix/Clean playground and neighbourhood.
C. What supports do parents need to keep their children safe?
1. Involvement in the community.
• More awareness
• Manager watch
• Family activities
• Regular outings and not once a year
• Community cleanups; ALL parents and youth should be involved.
2.Safety for youth & everybody:
• Glass bottle collection
• Parent patrol group to watch children/youth
• Know where your kids are at ALL times
• Neighbourhood Police watch
• Healthy lifestyles for the youth and all ages.
• Education/Options for the community to grasp onto.
3.Awareness for the community:
• Stay out of trouble & dangerous areas
• More awareness for the dangers resided in the neighbourhood.
• More knowledge about safety for the youth.
D. Will Curfews Help?
• Yes? 18 No? 3
YES: Reasons Why:
• Comfort of home.
• To be safe.
• So I know where my children are and that they are safe.
• There are too many young kids out late.
• To prevent bad things from happening.
• To much Drinking/Drugs/Fighting.
• Small kids are out at night.
• Kids should be in the house at 10pm.
NO: Reasons why:
• Youth will rebel more because of the curfews and more youth will be labelled as troubled & bad just for breaking the curfew; unnecessary work for our officers.
• You start making criminals – Children should be meeting police on 1st positive experience.
• Teenagers won’t comply.