Nanaimo Youth Services Association is a non-profit organization which has delivered services to young adults in Nanaimo since January 23, 1969. Over this period, the Association has offered a number of services to our youth population.
When incorporated in 1969, the Association purchased and renovated a residence on Wesley Street, and, initially, acted as a landlord for program services contracted by Social Services to a third party. Between 1969 and 1983, the residence moved from Wesley Street to Aulds Road and evolved from a receiving home for children into a therapeutic program for adolescents. In 1983, the NYSA assumed responsibility for service provision, and shortly after, introduced a professional child-care model. This program continued until 1987, at which time the local Ministry of Social Services office made a decision to shift its residential programs to a parenting model.
In 1986, with funding from the-federal government, NYSA initiated a 10 month “Youth Worker” training program. This program was funded for five years, and became the foundation for Malaspina University-College’s (now Vancouver Island University) Child and Youth Care diploma program. During its existence with the agency, the program trained over 60 child and youth care workers, many of whom continue to work in the community today.
In 1987, a federally-funded Work Orientation Workshop (WOW) project was developed to assist 15 to 18 year-olds who were out of school, or at risk of leaving school to acquire life skills and personal focus which would enable them to successfully pursue educational plans.
These two federal programs laid the ground work for the Association to become one of the key providers of employability services to young people in the region.
The Association continued its work in housing with a coalition of community organizations to develop a subsidized youth housing project. In 1999, a twenty-two unit complex was opened at 1001 Waddington Road to house 15 to 19 year-old youth, primarily those in the care of the Ministry of Child and Family Development. This building also houses NYSA’s Supportive Living Program, an outreach program which responds to the needs for support primarily for MCFD at-risk youth in the Nanaimo region.
Rowe House, a large rooming house in south Nanaimo, built at the turn of the 20th century, had fallen into disrepair in the early 21st century. NYSA identified it as potential accommodation for youth in the 19 to 25 age category. The property was purchased, and rebuilt and opened in 2012. Rowe House has 14 single units with communal kitchen and laundry facilities.
NYSA currently provides a range of training programs for youth. One of the most popular employment readiness services is the Employment Keep It! program. The program is designed for youths aged 16 to 30 who are unemployed, not attending school and who are in need of assistance to overcome employment barriers. In the program, individuals will participate in paid in-class training followed by paid work experience while being provided other supports to enable them to stick with the program. Employers who provide work to Keep It! youth also receive a wage subsidy.
BladeRunners is a life skills, job development and coaching, and wage subsidy program intended to provide employment disadvantaged individuals, particularly youth 17 to 25 years, with work experience and training. The program commenced in March 1996, and provided options in the construction trades through work experience on specific construction projects. This program was initiated by NYSA and became the successful model for the provincial government’s ACCESS BladeRunners program.
Strong linkages with the business community have been developed through job development and work placement programs, community development projects, memberships on the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and the Nanaimo City Centre Association. A network of businesses continue to turn to the Association when looking for youth to fill job vacancies, and NYSA is viewed as a resource in assisting community groups to address youth issues.
Currently, the organization has approximately 20 full and part-time employees working in Housing, Wellness, Employment Readiness and Supportive Living.
Our acronym NYSA is pronounced “en-why-ess-eh” so as not to be confused with a business in Nanaimo called NISA “nee-suh”.