Who We Are
The Young Carers Initiative (YCI) is a non-profit agency with a mission to promote the well-being of young carers, their families and their community partners. Powerhouse Project is an inter-agency strategy developed by the YCI to establish two centres to meet the needs of young carers and their families. A holistic approach to assess the needs of the entire family will be used to support young carers in both the Niagara and Haldimand-Norfolk Region
The Powerhouse Project offers a variety of services and activities to empower young carers, and give them time where “kids can be kids”. The social, leisure, educational and skill development opportunities offered at our Drop-In Centre and during “on the road” programs will include:
- Workshops to develop practical skills
- Homework help
- Video Games
- Computer Access
- Movie Nights
Board of Directors
- Chair – Kim Latour
- Vice President – Marge Dempsey
- Treasurer – Vacancy
- Secretary – Carol Suess
- Director – Sylvia Baago
- Director – Trisha Haight
- Director – Dave Lane
We believe individual and family resilience is fostered through strong communities founded upon mutuality, partnership and collaboration.
To create an inclusive community where young carers and their families can build resilience through opportunities to share experiences, benefit from mutual support, have fun, and achieve optimal development through individualized guidance designed to strengthen the resources within their families and themselves.
Honouring the needs and perspectives of young carers within the context of their families serves as the core value for the YCIN and the evolution of its programmes.
We offer an opportunity for young carers to be:
Valued for their contribution and perspective
Supported in their care-giving roles
Engaged in building on their own inner strengths and resilience
Assisted in their efforts to have a positive childhood and family life
In 2003, the Young Carers Initiative was created as a special project of the Alzheimer Society of the Niagara Region (ASNR). The ASNR provides support services for people with dementia and their families. During home visits to clients and their caregivers, the ASNR had noticed many children and teens taking on caregiving roles to help out the family. The ASNR identified 74 children and youth who lived with a parent, grandparent or other relative suffering from a progressive dementia, and it became clear that many of these children struggled with stress and anxiety, or other emotional problems. Building on the principle “Caregiving is a family event,” the ASNR decided to take action.
The ASNR successfully approached the Fowler Foundation for a grant of $68,000 to start a project aimed at supporting children in dementia care environments. The one-year project had two main goals. The first goal was to start a network of community agencies to devise ways of supporting children who provide care for a relative with dementia. A second goal was to conduct an extensive literature review. This research led to the discovery of the young carers’ movement which had started in Britain in the early 1990s, and had spread around the world. This movement was dedicated to making life easier for children and youth (i.e. young carers) who provided care for family members with chronic conditions, substance abuse issues, mental health issues, and/ or provided translation services for immigrant and refuge parents. The ASNR decided to open up the project to include youth under 18 involved in any kind of caregiving situation, not just dementia care, and the Young Carers Initiative Niagara (YCIN) was born.
Using Trillium funding, the YCIN recruited 17 community agencies, all with a common interest in helping children and youth in caregiving families. Activities over the three-year life-span of the network included conducting research into young carers in the Niagara Region, with the results of the study to be published soon by Dr. Heather Chalmers, PhD of Brock University, St. Catharines. Other major accomplishments included developing educational and promotional materials on young carers, creating public awareness, and delivering a limited number of programs especially designed to support young carers. An important component of these programs was the opportunity for young carers to meet other kids in caregiving roles, and give them a chance just to “goof off and be kids” with their peers. Peer support has proven to be very beneficial for young carers, and decreases levels of isolation and stress in their young lives.
In 2006, public awareness efforts included the first conference on young carers ever to be held in Canada. The “Bouncing Back” conference in Niagara Falls attracted 100 participants from across Canada, as well as Florida, Texas and the U.K.
The YCIN ended officially in 2006 when its two-year Trillium grant ran out, but a determined group of individuals revived the project in 2007 as an independent registered charity – the Young Carers Initiative (YCI). With the support of Alzheimer’s Society of Haldimand-Norfolk, the YCI received funding from the LHIN’s “Aging at Home” Initiative…which has supported the creation of the Powerhouse Project in August 2008.