Youth Summer Programs: Building Skills for a Sustainable World

By Blaise Cabanban, Youth Program Worker, Access Alliance
The youth group from Making Canada Home- Nature Walk/ Historic Explorations enjoying the moment as they celebrate the first day of the summer season after a long and busy school year.

 I’m happy to be a part of a newcomer youth group in Access Alliance where it fosters passion, and healthy living collaboration.

– Newcomer Youth Volunteer

It’s been a skill-building summer of sustainability for Access Alliance’s youth! Participants in our summer newcomer youth programs have benefitted from our team’s commitment to promoting sustainability and supporting a diverse and inclusive environment. Their focus aligns with the 2023 International Youth Day theme, Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World. This builds on the understanding that young people around the world need to develop green skills, defined by the United Nations as “knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society”. In order to build these skills in newcomer youth, our team ran various programs geared towards knowledge-building, community engagement and leadership skills. These programs prepare participants to take the lead in fostering positive change in their own lives and their communities, building a more sustainable future for all.

Building back better: Tools for youth

The enthusiasm and commitment of our newcomer youth shone brightly as they engaged in a range of programs over July and August. The intent of each program is to give every newcomer youth an opportunity to share their goals and insights, and help them build their skills with an innovative mindset. The programs serve to guide them to build a strong foundation for healthier and more resilient communities.

Our popular newcomer youth programs this summer included:

From the World to the 6ix

From the World to the 6ix is the ultimate Saturday experience for newcomer youth! This unique program takes newcomer youth through various creative ways to express themselves, including painting, drawing and singing. Volunteer youth leaders were encouraged to share their knowledge and skills (and log volunteer hours)!  

Swaroop Maguluri, who received the Outstanding Youth Volunteer award shared that “I volunteered in Access Alliance as a newcomer and . . . I learned a lot about Canada. I have volunteered in . . . Seedy Saturday, Harvesting, and a lot more. I am also one of the youth members in the group. We have fun with board games, movies, etc. There is also an art program every Saturday and I learn about different types of arts and make them.”

Youth volunteer leaders (including Swarooop Maguluri, left) support a variety of newcomer youth programs.


Making Canada Home- Nature Walk/ Historic Explorations

Through this program, newcomer youth had the opportunity to explore Toronto and develop an appreciation of some of its landmarks and natural spaces through engaging field trips. This was a perfect way to help youth new to the city settle in, explore, and start creating memories. The program facilitated social and community integration through hands-on workshops as well as group outings. Newcomer youth and young adults who participated also increased their knowledge about life in Canada, developed a greater sense of belonging in their community, and made new friends along the way!

Environmental Activism!

Based on sustainability themes such as consumption, waste, resource extraction, green space, food, this program helped newcomer youth grow their knowledge around how they engage with these “green themes” in their daily lives and how they relate to building a more sustainable future. Participants explored climate change and the concept of climate justice, looking at who benefits from using fossil fuels and who pays the costs. Through activities and discussions, they learned about a range of environmental issues, how they can contribute to protecting the environment and building a more sustainable future.

Participants in the Environmental Activism! youth program conduct water quality testing and learn how to collect data.
Newcomer youth designing their own mugs using different images representing their home country at the From the World To The 6ix program.


The future is now

Our youth programs will continue to strengthen the skills of newcomer youth in ways that encourage sustainable living, creativity and community engagement. Our young participants contribute in many ways to the success of the programs, sharing their unique perspectives and diverse cultural knowledge in ways that enhance the outcomes for the group. The emphasis placed on youth innovation empowers young newcomers to take on leadership roles and act as critical agents of change in building a world that is more connected, inclusive, and sustainable.


For more information on our upcoming youth programs, please visit: