These two volunteers invited organizations providing services to youth in and around Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, to take a booth at the expo. No charge. Jay Aaron is owner of Cape & Cowl Comics & Collectibles and Rainie Murphy is with Knox United Church Sackville NS.
Rainie and Jay had an idea and made it happen – an open invitation to take a free booth went out to organizations offering programs and opportunities for youth. The event was so much fun and I met two truly awesome, spirited, people. Thank you Jay and Rainie for a great event and new friendships.
Media: The City Voice
“Community organizers say they took a ‘build it, they will come’ attitude when putting youth expo together.”Chronicle Herald, The City Voice, July 30, 2019
Excerpts of story by Sheryl Dubois
Published: Jul 30 at 8:18 a.m.
How successful was the first annual Sackville Youth Expo held on June 29?
Before the tables were re-stacked in the hall of Knox United Church, organizers Jay Aaron Roy and Rainie Murphy were already looking at dates for 2020.
Roy owns Cape and Cowl Comics and Collectibles on Lower Sackville Drive. A lot of youth come into the store, some to hang out. He started providing information about services in Lower Sackville for youth and even began providing a few services himself.
Need help with a resume? Drop into the shop.
Want help with some problem and think you have nowhere to turn? Roy will direct you to the proper service.
Roy says it is the nature of the comic book stores, and his mission, to attract and welcome youth from all walks of life. Accordingly, his network grew.
“As I connected with more people, people connected with me,” he says. “Now people approach me about youth services.”
Lamenting the situation for youth in the Sackville area, Roy found a partner in Rainie Murphy.
Murphy volunteers at Knox United Church, right across the street from the comic bookstore. The church is increasingly known for providing an inclusive place of worship. The message on the electronic board outside the church welcomes the LBGTQ community and the restrooms are titled ‘gender-neutral.’
“We just thought it would be a good idea if everyone were under one roof,” says Roy of the service providers and youth.
“If you want to target youth, you got to offer services where the youth are. We hoped to showcase things [the community] has to offer youth and help youth connect.”
And that’s important, says Roy.
“People doing youth work need to connect,” he said. “Otherwise, we’re not as effective as we could be.”
Roy says choosing a church to hold this event — meant to be inclusive of the rainbow community — worried him at first.
“Churches are not always perceived as safe spaces by the rainbow community. I didn’t want to alienate youth or families. I was made aware that Knox [United Church], in particular, was an all-affirming church, welcoming to all, including those in the rainbow community. It was important that everyone would feel welcome.”
Murphy and Roy went ahead with the plan and put a call out for organizations and individuals providing services and activities to youth in the Lower Sackville area.
They provided a bright space, large tables decked out in colourful summer cloths, healthy snacks, engaging conversation and fun for volunteers and representatives working at the expo. The groups included Cape and Cowl Comic and Collectibles, Cobequid Community Health Centre, Games on Board, HRM Youth Advocate Program, Laing House/The Den (out of Sackville Library), Nova Scotia Works, Social Marketplace Society, Sackville Nova Scotia Lions Club with the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, and a youth entrepreneur, Sabin Denys, who served up a delicious salsa enjoyed by all.
“It was wonderful to gather,” says Roy. “The feedback was good. A few families talked to me at the event, and we received a few thank you notes online.”
Roy noted there were “more [services] than you would think,” in the community, and “more organizations — like the Cadet table — talking about diversity within our communities.”
Look for the next Sackville Youth Expo in June 2020.