TRURO – Before attending one of the local youth programs, Shane “Titus” Cameron didn’t open up to people.
Now, the 17-year-old has made numerous friends, and even met his girlfriend thanks to the Swords and Sorcery program, hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association Colchester-East Hants Branch.
“The youth program is a place for teens, especially troubled teens, to go and expose their problems to someone who listens, and cares,” said Cameron, who lives in Truro. “People here respect you as a human being.”
Cameron is just one of the attendees to the Swords and Sorcery program, which started in October 2016 and gathers at Slate Youth Centre on Thursdays, from 6 to 8 p.m. It’s open to youth aged 10 and over.
“It really helped me open up,” the teenager said. “When I first came here, I didn’t know anyone. But I’ve met lots of friends, and met my girlfriend here. By participating, it helps you create friendships with people – people who you can connect to in some way.”
Swords and Sorcery is a role-playing game similar to Dungeons and Dragons, and 12-year-old Gordon Gillis said there’s a feeling of family with those participating.
“It’s like a cup of warm hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day,” he said. “No matter your problems at home or school, they don’t care here. They’re like a second family.”
The 12-year-old said he enjoys the game because it allows him to do things one can’t in real life – such as live in the middle ages – all while making friends.
“It’s helped me quite a bit, just by being here,” said Gillis. “If kids are bullying me at school more than normal, this gives me something to look forward to. It’s something to think about.”
Making new friends is also what JT O’Connor, 14, likes best about the program as well.
“Just come here,” said O’Connor. “It’s a good place to hang out.”
Jarret Doyle, a youth outreach worker with the mental health association branch along with Sarah Flemming, said local youth depend on the programming offered through the branch.
“We see probably over 100 youth through our programs,” he said. “We have a wide range of programs.”
Along with Swords and Sorcery, Comfort Food is a weekly gathering where participants learn to make a meal together, followed by a fun activity. Creative Community began last autumn, and sees Ben Morton facilitate an art project weekly such as painting, crafts, and ornaments.
“It’s great to have things youth can engage in, where they can meet new people and engage in something new,” said Doyle. “We try to offer a variety of things, because no two youth are the same. While some might like Swords and Sorcery, they might not like the Creative Community program. They’re all for different individuals, but we’re looking to grow and our doors are always open.”
Doyle said he and Flemming are always open to ideas from the community about new programs, and encourages those with ideas to reach out to them. Any local youth interested in learning more about the programs can drop by the office on Prince Street, call 902-895-4211, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Youth can also drop into any of the programs available:
- Swords and Sorcery, ages 10 and older – Thursdays, 6-8 p.m., at Slate Youth Centre, 883 Prince St., Truro
- Creative Community, ages 15-29 – Tuesdays, 3:30-5 p.m., at Slate Youth Centre
- Comfort Food, ages 16-19 – Wednesdays, 3-9 p.m., at the CMHA office, 574 Prince St., Truro