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New workshop helps York Region's diverse youth talk about the tough stuff

Young people are at the highest statistical risk of experiencing sexual violence, Women’s Support Network of York Region says 
PH-Teens aug 5
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A new workshop series for diverse youth in Newmarket and throughout York Region will provide young people the chance to talk about a variety of issues they may not be able to discuss at home.

The Helpful Relationships workshop is delivered by Women’s Support Network of York Region staff who have expertise in youth programming and working with diverse youth about such things as sexual violence prevention, dating violence, domestic abuse, and human trafficking.

The workshop series explores healthy relationships, warning signs of unhealthy relationships, personal boundaries, safety, and self-awareness for young people.  

“It is our experience that education on relationship skills and sexual violence, including information on myths and misconceptions, goes a long way toward the prevention of violence impacting youth,” the network’s executive director Jackie Benn-John said.

Benn-John notes that young people are at the highest statistical risk of experiencing sexual violence. 

For example, police-reported crime found that sexual crimes were the most common offence against girls, male-identified persons made up 29 per cent of child victims, and 12 per cent of youth victims, according to statistics from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

Youth from marginalized racial, sexual, and socioeconomic groups are also more vulnerable to sexual harassment and sexual assault, a report for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health shows. 

“This project and the workshops are unique, as they reach out to and provide helpful relationships education to young populations that are not necessarily in school or accessing school-based programming, youth of all genders, and youth who are from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Benn-John.

The Helpful Relationships workshop series for youth is made possible with the financial support of The Ontario Trillium Foundation. 

Schools, organizations, social clubs, groups homes, camps, faith groups and more are invited to schedule the workshop series for youth in their communities.

For more information, contact Coco LaRain Veira, the Helpful Relationships project coordinator at 905-895-3646, ext. 107 or email

Headquartered in Newmarket, the Women’s Support Network of York Region is the region’s only sexual violence crisis centre that provides free, confidential services for women over 16 who have experienced sexual violence, and are survivors of sexual assault and sexual abuse past and present.

For more information on the Women’s Support Network of York Region, visit here.

Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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