Peterborough Youth Services was established in March of 1976 under the name "Youth of Otonabee United". A group of concerned Peterborough citizens and professionals, headed up by Bill Samuels, a Sir Sandford Fleming College teacher, identified a need for a community-based, non-residential, highly flexible program offering counselling, recreational, and educational activities where children could be referred by the courts and other sources. The original funding was from the Ministry of the Solicitor General, Canada, as a demonstrative project in juvenile diversion and delinquency prevention.
The goals were to promote:
- significant change in self-concept and personality
- an acceptance of responsibility and consequences for behaviour
- a reduction of conflicts with the law
- and positive changes in attitudes and behaviour in relation to the law, family, school, and community
Social group work was the main method of intervention. However, very early on it became apparent that it was not only juvenile delinquents or those at risk of getting into trouble with the law who could benefit from the Youth of Otonabee program. Youth were being referred to the program from a wide variety of community agencies and by parents. Also young people felt, and still feel, comfortable in referring themselves.
In 1979 Federal funding ended and the Board and Executive Director negotiated funding from the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, the United Way, a grant from the City of Peterborough, as well as service clubs, foundations, and Wintario.
In 1986 our name was changed from Youth of Otonabee United to Peterborough Youth Services. Our location changed, we expanded our mandate from 10-16 to 10-18 years, and we restructured our programs from intensive groups and community recreation to two distinct programs; Counselling and Social Enrichment Service.
Counselling services began with a more comprehensive family assessment and treatment planning conference that was based on a broader "systems" perspective from which goals and methods were formulated. While group treatment was still the main focus, other therapy like individual and family was offered depending on the assessment formulation and treatment priorities established.
Social Enrichment was suitable for adolescents needing and wanting enrichment and support while living in disadvantaged or difficult living situations, but not necessarily having specific identified problems. This was a large, open-ended model focusing on recreational activities and it offered constructive opportunities for fun, socialization, enhancing self-esteem and social skills.
Throughout our history Peterborough Youth Services has provided counselling groups in our agency and also in schools within the public and separate school systems. This has provided more access for some rural young people who might otherwise not have been able to receive counselling support and in some cases has helped school administration become more receptive to the needs of troubled students.
Peterborough Youth Services was the first agency in Peterborough to develop a group for teen parents which addressed their needs as both single mothers (teen mothers have been the main participants in this group) and their needs as adolescents. A group program was developed which attempted to address, among other things, pre- and post-natal health issues, parenthood, child development and provide information to negotiate educational and government systems. In addition it was expected that teen mothers would also bring relationship issues to the group regarding their own parents as well as their boyfriends. As the group has evolved over the years other community agencies have taken on an increased role in working with teen parents and their children.
In 1995 a video was made at the suggestion of the members of one of our Teen Parent groups. The video called "4 Teen Parents" presents straight talk about the realities and experiences of the four teen moms who were involved. This video has been used in schools as an educational tool and to facilitate discussion around teen pregnancy and parenthood.
Through the years Peterborough Youth Services has experienced many changes. Our programs have shifted to meet the ever changing needs of our clients. We currently offer a continuum of service that includes individual, group, and family counselling, as well as Outreach/Crisis support with a continued emphasis on what young people need and want to deal with as it relates to their social and emotional difficulties.
We continue to receive funding from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the United Way, the City of Peterborough and through donations and fundraising.
In September of 1998 we moved to our new home which is located at 459 Reid Street. The building was a joint purchase with Community Counselling and Resource Centre (formerly Family Counselling Service of Peterborough). The move has allowed us to share space and resources and provides a larger continuum of service for all ages.
Historic Locations For Peterborough Youth Services:
- March 1976, 1022 High Street
- November 1976, 464 George Street
- August 1, 1981, 661 Park Street
- March 29, 1988, 474 George Street
- February 1993, 327 George Street
- September 1998, 459 Reid Street