I took 5 youth to the Vancouver Art Gallery to see the current exhibition. As soon as we entered the gallery all but one of the youth scattered, happy to explore by themselves. This youth, James, stuck by my side the entire 2 hours we roamed the gallery. We discussed the materials used to make the art, the colors and the messages each work conveying. Throughout the evening James kept receiving and sending texts and appeared to be flustered each time a new message came in.
I commented after some time saying, “You must be popular tonight; you seem to be getting lots of texts.” I think it was a comment he had been waiting for, or more so an invitation to talk about what was going on for him via text. James explained to me that his friend knew he had received a large cheque today. James’ friend was bugging him to go out drinking that night.
James was worried he would blow all his money, be tempted to drink and not go to school the next day. James and I strategized about how he could choose to spend his time not drinking that night. We hung out in the gallery till close. We wandered home through the Downtown area talking. He picked up a bag of Cheetos and that night he relaxed in the common area at ROP watching an action movie, while putting healthy boundaries in place with his friend. Before the end of my shift, I made special note to again connect with James. I congratulated him on making a really tough decision to practice self-care that night. I told him I was proud of his choice. James gave me a big smile and said “thanks”.