Healthy CommunitiesYCAN

2SLGBTQIA+ newcomers get support from YCAN and YMCA Academy

28 April 2022 - by Caroline Crouzatier

French version

Inclusiveness, respect, and kindness are values close to our hearts at the YMCA of Greater Toronto. Recently youth from the YMCA Community Action Network (YCAN) shared these values by creating a more welcoming environment for our 2SLGBTQIA+ newcomer community and demonstrated their innovation and leadership.

2SLGBTQIA+ welcome kits creation

The YCAN group collaborated with a class from the YMCA Academy from September 2021 to February 2022. The goal of the group was to prepare different types of care and welcome kits for 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations including YMCA Sprott House and Rainbow Railroad. Both organizations were program partners and recipients of the 33 welcome kits curated by the youth. The goal of these kits was to provide care-focused items to help newcomers to the country, especially in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and to help them feel more welcome in their new homes and living situations.

Virtual workshops to educate their classmates

Virtual workshop to educate participants on the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

They also planned two virtual workshops open to all students of the YMCA Academy school to educate their classmates about the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. This two-part educational series led by the YCAN group, included activities such as interactive educational online games and provided opportunities to interact with guest speakers from The Get Real Movement. The first workshop highlighted the human connection, using empathy, to promote 2SLGBTQIA+ allyship, unlearn harmful language, and focus on the impact we can have on one another through small acts of kindness.

The goal of the second workshop was to give a deeper understanding of what being transgender means, how gender affects our day-to-day interactions, and how we can be allies to trans people.

Over 100 participants took part in each of the virtual events on January 7 and January 14, 2022.

The pandemic challenged our young leaders

From a logistics perspective the pandemic has challenged everyone, including the youth participating in the program. The program was intended to be an in-person learning but transitioned to virtual. Many organizations had paused their activities and weren’t running programs. As a result, it was challenging to find groups to support. But our YCAN youth leaders persevered and showed resilience and leadership to overcome these challenges.

Some of our participants share their experiences:

My experience with YCAN has been fun, positive, mind-opening and educational. We had lots of fun working on team-building projects, and going on community walks. Our main project was to help 2SLGBTQIA+ newcomers feel welcome into our community by making welcome kits. Overall, this has been an amazing class to be in. – A.F.

The YCAN project was really fun to organize and figure out what to do for our project. I really liked emailing the organizations. It made me better at emailing and communicating with my community. – A.K.

This semester I had a lot of fun with the YCAN group. It was awesome working with others to support 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations, and help out with kits and support for our peers at the academy and friends. – A.S.

Material prepared by the YCAN youth for the workshop.[…] the YCAN GTA program worked on youth leadership, and collaboration skills with a class at the YMCA Academy. The goal of the group was to make different types of care and welcome kits for different 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations, Sprott House and Rainbow Railroad. They also planned an event for the whole school in hopes to educate their classmates about the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. […] N.P.

Thank you to the YCAN Greater Toronto group and the YMCA Academy! Your ability to support your community during this challenging time was amazing.

If you’re feeling inspired and want to get involved with any of our 17 YCAN groups across Canada, visit


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