Eva's National Innovation Awards presented to three exemplary community services that help homeless youth become self-sufficient



    
    Homeless youth account for nearly one-third of all homeless people in
    Canada
    

    TORONTO, April 20 /CNW/ - Three community organizations that are models
of integrated support for helping homeless youth become self-sufficient are
this year's recipients of Eva's National Innovation Awards. The 2009 winners
of the award and a $5,000 prize are:

    
    -   Montreal's Groupe communautaire l'Itinéraire for the initiative Le
        magDVD le 3e Oeil
    -   Halifax's Laing House for its program Youth Speak: Breaking Down
        Stigma One Classroom at a Time
    -   Red Deer's Parkland Youth Homes for its Street Ties Youth Outreach
    

    "Youth homelessness is a major issue in Canada, particularly in these
recessionary times," said Rachel Gray, Director of National Initiatives at
Eva's Initiatives. "Of the estimated 150,000 homeless people in Canada, 65,000
are between 18 and 24. They have a range of complicated issues, including for
many lack of education and employment skills, mental illness, addictions, and
no connection to family or community. One thing is crystal clear: the longer
they are on the street, the longer they are likely to stay on the street. Long
term solutions that address self-sufficiency are the key to helping homeless
youth. Integrated support services, such as shelter, job and life skills,
counseling and mentorship have proven effective in helping youth get off and
stay off the streets permanently."
    Eva's Innovation Awards, sponsored by CIBC, is in its fourth year of
recognizing the work of organizations across Canada working to address the
issues of youth homelessness and youth unemployment in a holistic way. Since
2006, Eva's Initiatives has honoured 12 organizations for their work with
homeless and at-risk youth.
    This year's winners of Eva's Nationals Innovation Awards are:

    Montreal:

    Le Groupe communautaire L'Itinéraire helps Montreal's homeless reclaim
their place in society and develop self esteem by participating in tangible
projects. Le magDVD le 3e Oeil aims to facilitate the social reintegration of
street youth aged 18 to 30 years or those who are at risk of becoming street
involved. The strategy is to train youth in video production and journalism.
The production and sale of a magazine in DVD format is a way to reconnect with
a vulnerable population that is very interested in multimedia. The initiative
provides an alternative to panhandling, a way to feel valued, and work
experience. The result is an information magazine about the experience of
youth and their battle with addictions and disengagement. The magazine itself
is a tool to promote understanding of youth culture and reduce prejudices.

    Halifax:

    Laing House is a support centre for youth living with mental illness. It
helps youth rebuild their lives and learn how to effectively manage their
illness. Youth Speak is an educational initiative that targets junior high,
high school and university students. The model is peer-to-peer interactive
workshops led by young mental health consumers who are successfully navigating
through life with a mental illness. They model recovery and demonstrate hope.
This approach aims to increase knowledge and understanding around mental
illness, raise awareness of available resources and treatments, reduce stigma
and isolation and encourage youth to seek help. Most importantly, this program
encourages dialogue about youth mental health issues. It reaches out to a
vulnerable at-risk population. Workshop facilitators are able to quickly
engage and connect with the students as they courageously share their personal
stories. Compassion, understanding and increased awareness are promoted
through this project.

    Red Deer:

    Parkland Youth Homes is the only one of its kind in Red Deer, providing
resources to youth who are outside of the mainstream and typically exist
un-noticed and unheard. Outreach workers advocate on behalf of the youth using
the drop-in centre, thereby putting a spotlight on the existence of youth
at-risk in Red Deer. Street Ties Youth Outreach seeks to divert youth from
street involvement that may lead to drug addiction, crime and sexual
exploitation. Pillars of the program include focusing on education, crisis
support and early intervention; connecting youth with appropriate community
resources; and offering youth a safe and non-judgmental space as a first step
in supporting healthier lifestyle choices.

    "At CIBC, helping young people achieve their full potential is an
important part of our community investment program," said Christina Kramer,
CIBC's Executive Vice-President of Retail Distribution. "We are proud to
support Eva's Initiatives and the National Innovation Awards and salute this
year's recipients for their exemplary work with homeless youth." CIBC has had
a long-standing relationship with Eva's Initiatives, to which it has
contributed more than $200,000 since 2005.

    Eva's Initiatives works with homeless and at-risk youth, ages 16 to 24,
to get them off the streets permanently. Eva's operates three shelters in the
Greater Toronto Area that house 122 youth each night. Its shelters provide
homeless youth with emergency and transitional housing, harm reduction
services to address drug and alcohol use, counseling, employment and training
programs, housing support and services to reconnect youth with their families.
Each year, Eva's helps over 2,300 homeless and at-risk youth to get off the
street, find housing and community supports, and begin to rebuild their
futures.

    CIBC is committed to supporting causes that matter to our clients, our
employees and our communities. We aim to make a difference in communities
through corporate donations, sponsorships and the volunteer spirit of
employees. With a strategic focus on youth, education and health, and employee
commitment to causes including the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run
for the Cure, the CIBC World Markets Children's Foundation and United Way, we
are investing in the social and economic development of communities across the
country. In 2008, CIBC group of companies contributed more than $36 million
worldwide to charitable and nonprofit initiatives. Of this, more than $27
million was invested in Canada to support national, regional and local
organizations. To learn more, visit www.cibc.com/pas.





For further information:

For further information: Rachel Gray, Director, National Initiatives,
Eva's Initiatives, rachel@evas.ca, (416) 569-7891, or Doug Maybee, Director of
Media Relations, CIBC, doug.maybee@cibc.com, (416) 980-7458


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