The South Essex Community Council Newcomer Youth Group provides a welcoming environment for high school students who are new to Canada. The Newcomer Youth group meets three times per week at the Leamington Recreation Complex after school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The youth are offered a multiple services including group activities, community involvement, mentor matches, volunteer opportunities, homework time and other social events. The youth group also assists high school student to develop leadership training and provide youth with opportunities to learn new things about Canadian culture. Youth have the opportunity to build positive leadership, teamwork and social skills in a setting where they can make new friends, socialize and participate in community events and activities.
The youth have recently been working on leadership training and participating in activities designed to strengthen their leadership skills and become strong leaders in their community. The youth have been participating in activities surrounding a variety of topics including building confidence and trust, as well as team building exercises. With the assistance from Sarah Lastro, the SECC Youth Worker, and Rachel Chausse, the SECC Welcoming Communities Worker, the Newcomer Youth Group has developed a final project for their leadership training, consisting of a short documentary. The documentary, entitled Crossing Cultures – A Journey to Canada, focuses on newcomers telling their stories and experiences about coming to Canada. The film includes newcomers expressing the challenges they have faced, as well as the opportunities they have been provided with by starting a new life in Canada.
In preparation for creating the documentary, the youth took part in an informative workshop, facilitated by John Plantus, a professor in the School of Language and Liberal Studies at Fanshawe College. John has a background in film with a combined Honours Degree in English and Film from the University of Western Ontario, as well as a certificate from The Vancouver Film School and a Masters in Film from York University. Following the workshop, the youth developed interview questions, filmed and interviewed each other at the youth program. The film was screened at The Bank Theatre on March 30, 2016.