Youth voices to be heard at Richmond forum

UBC prof will highlight immigrant youth challenges

In celebration of the International Year of Youth, Richmond Youth Service Agency (RYSA) is presenting its first Sharing Our Voices Youth Forum on Oct. 16.

Participants, including parents and service providers, are invited to express their thoughts on youth-related issues playing up in Richmond.

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The forum offers an opportunity to identify local needs, review best practices, and work towards developing possible solutions.

Its a good avenue for us to connect with youngsters on a grass roots level, said Kim Aldridge of RYSA.

This way, they can get in touch with service providers and raise their voice on the current state of youth services.

Participants will be divided into groups for interactive discussions with service facilitators.

The conversations are to be recorded, added Aldridge, as the outcomes allow us to recognize service gaps and to affirm what is already working effectively.

To include a different side to the story, parents are asked to be involved as well, giving them a chance to understand the younger generation better.

Ultimately, the purpose of the forum is to help RYSA forge a stronger connection within the community.

Miu Chung Yan, associate professor at UBC selected as keynote speaker for the event will highlight the challenges young immigrants face. They can be confronted with racial discrimination or a lack of social network in the search for a job, he stated.

Also, job applicants with an irregular name are 30 per cent more likely to experience difficulty getting an interview, Yan said.

Furthermore, the growing problem of online gaming addictions will be addressed, as well as communication gaps between the young generation and their parents.

More and more often, families sit in restaurants silently, while children text away. The forum wants to assure the art of face-to-face communication doesnt get lost.

Participants can also take a stance on local youth crime and, with Richmond very much a diverse ethnic community, share their intercultural experiences.

Meanwhile, occupational safety officer Sugavanam Prabhakaran will inform the public about workplace safety.

Young workers aged between 15 and 24 are most likely to get injured, he said.

They are often unaware of their rights and responsibilities and many accidents happen due to a lack of communication.

As they may be inexperienced or inadequately trained, young workers should also recognize hazards in their work environment, he added.

Several common dangers can be lurking, said Prabhakaran, such as heavy lifting, working with moving equipment, or hot substances.

RYSA is hoping for an exchange of knowledge between facilitators and guests. MC of the event is Fiona Law, anchor at OMNI TV.

The Sharing Our Voices Youth Forum will be held at the Riverside Banquet Hall, 230-14500 River Road on Tuesday, Oct. 16, from 4 to 7:15 p.m. Registration is required. For more information and the registration form, visit www.rysa.bc.ca.

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