By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
Two Trent University students have asked the region’s transit executive committee to consider providing bus tickets to vulnerable youth in Oshawa.
Teri Norrie and Rose Lee Fountain provided an overview regarding a public transportation deficit issue that is being experienced by vulnerable youth in and around Oshawa.
Those who are experiencing the deficit utilize The Refuge, an organization that helps 450 to 600 youth each month.
According to Norrie, 92 per cent of those who access the agency’s services have been physically or sexually abused.
“Many are involved in the child welfare system in Durham Region,” Norrie said. “Most had to leave their homes, not by choice, but due to their caregivers, and they’re at greater risk of violence when homeless or in poverty.”
She said the agency offers therapeutic programs and drop-ins for youth wishing to utilize their services.
“They offer co-op programs and they encourage youth to learn skills such as problem solving, employable skills, decision making and they offer a lot of transformative programs for these youth in the Durham Region,” she said.
Norrie said she and Fountain have circulated a petition around Durham Region to raise awareness about homeless youth, and the deficit in transportation the agency is experiencing.
She said they have collected donations to help with the agency’s immediate need for transportation, and have contacted local government officials, such as Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter through letters and signed petitions.
“We raised awareness about The Refuge pertaining to services provided to our vulnerable youth in Durham Region,” she said.
She said they raised enough funds to alleviate the transportation deficit in December, however, they still need more.
She explained The Refuge relies on external donations in order to supplement the transportation issue.
She also noted, “They do offer a housing first program, which does have some transportation through Durham Region Transit, however it’s not for all youth, it’s only for those transitioning into homes.”
Norrie said clients of The Refuge have a deficit of mental health appointments, the ability to go to employment interviews, or just to “interact in our community as human beings.”
“We believe that the transit commission can work in collaboration with The Refuge to increase the well-being of our community and its members,” Norrie said. “We suggest that access to transportation for this population would benefit the community as a whole.”
She also said aiding The Refuge would not put DRT at a loss for money, because the youth in question can’t afford to use the transit system as it is.
Norrie said they are looking for bus tickets from the committee, and noted, “If they get donations, they have to pick and choose which youth can use the bus that day or if they can afford to give that ticket, or if somebody else is in more need of that bus ride.”
She said that any kind of help the committee can provide with bus tickets or passes “would be beneficial to us as a community as well.”
The decision whether or not to contribute to such a program will now move on to committee of the whole.