I went to my first Youth Drop In dance in May. This was a big deal because in the past my anxiety prevented me from going places, meeting new people and trying new things.
The Youth Drop In is held four times a year for youth between 16 and 29 who have disabilities.
I loved it. When I attended I felt like a normal person and no one cared if I had a disability or not. They just wanted to be my friend and hear what I had to say. The DJ has a disability which makes the participants feel more included. He plays modern, up-to-date music. Attendant care is provided for those who need it and this made people feel more comfortable.
They also have a resource table where there are different flyers about other events happening in the disability community. I found a flyer about a mentorship training offered at Variety Village which I attended in the summer. I enjoyed it very much and am now on the Variety Village Youth Advisory Council.
My social worker suggested these social events would be good for me because my anxiety can make me afraid of the outside world. Attending these events boosts my self-esteem and confidence and gives me more courage to go out by myself. Isolation can have a negative effect on your overall health and wellbeing. Now I feel like a new person.
My social worker knew a lot about different opportunities for social involvement for people with all kinds of disabilities, whether visible or invisible. I think social workers are a great resource for youth. I found out about the Youth Drop In on the Holland Bloorview website. I contacted the person listed and she made me feel comfortable, so I wasn’t nervous before the dance.
My parents were relieved that I found a social event that I was happy to be involved in and felt safe going to. They worry about me going out because I’m a woman and hard-of-hearing. But unless parents give their children the opportunity to explore the outside world, they will never know what they are capable of doing.
I think events like the Youth Drop In dance should be offered all over the world. I feel a sense of belonging when I go. We all came into this world with a purpose and I believe we all have hidden gifts and talents.
Never stop believing in the ability of your children!
The Youth Drop In is put on by Holland Bloorview, the Anne Johnston Health Station, Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario and Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre. For more information, call 416-425-6220, ext. 3296.