What does home mean to you? The idea and feeling of home can mean different things to different people. Although there is no blanket answer, there are some recurring themes. The idea of home, for many, usually involves themes around safety, feeling loved and accepted, connections to culture and community, and there are feelings around food and memories.
At Covenant House Vancouver (CHV), we strive to meet every youth’s needs on an individual basis, because what each youth needs is different from everyone else’s. Some youth consider CHV their home (while they are here) and some look at CHV as a stepping stone to finding their home.
The input and feedback that we receive from youth is vital in shaping our programs, services, and spaces. The main floor of our Drop-In Centre has been made more welcoming by CHV alumnus and Indigenous artist KC Hall. Our Lead spiritual Practitioner helps youth connect, or reconnect, to their cultures and communities. Our kitchen staff support connection to culture by preparing dishes that celebrate these connections, along with information about the celebration and food prepared. And of course, safety is a priority at CHV, as many youth have arrived here with trauma, and in some cases, have escaped dire situations.
Youth Input Shapes Pender Street Renos
The Pender Street location of CHV is home to the Rights of Passage (ROP) program. Initial consultations with youth were handled through leadership in the ROP program. Group meetings were held and youth were asked what they liked about the current ROP space and what would they like to see going forward.
During COVID, youth were, for the most part, kept indoors. To help keep youth active, a vacant bedroom was turned into a fitness room. Youth enjoyed having access to such a space so much that a proper fitness room was added to the renovation.
We wanted the new ROP building to have a fun, youthful look and feel, with more comfortable furniture and more colourful fabrics. Working with a designer, who also works with the Foundry, we created a design board that was shared with the ROP youth who loved the new look.
We wanted the upper lounge space to feel more like home, so a comfy couch will be placed up there, along with beanbag chairs in both the upper and lower lounges — something that we know from our Drop-In Centre, is a huge hit with the youth.
We received feedback that the youth would like the lower lounge to have the feel of a university community centre. We will achieve this request by using bright colours on the walls, seating that can be reconfigured, so that youth can meet in small groups, as well as gather for movie nights. There will be banquet seating along a wall for youth to do schoolwork or have meals and the whole lounge will be able to be converted into a dining hall that can seat up to 50 people, for community dinners that ROP used to hold and would like to start up again.
We have no doubt that the renovated ROP space is going to be amazing and better equipped to help youth achieve their goals, as they transition to independent living. We can’t wait to share the success stories that come out of this new space, once it opens in 2024. Stay tuned!