Toronto

Drop-in centre hosts pop-up event to bring young people out of isolation from pandemic

A drop-in centre for children and youth is hosting pop-up events in its community in northwest Toronto this month in the hopes of bringing people together and out of pandemic isolation.

Frontlines says events show young people that they matter

Frontlines, located at 1800 Weston Rd., hosted an event on Saturday that featured arts and crafts, games, theatre, music, free food and a youth cooking competition with a celebrity judge. A mural painted by young people was also unveiled. (Dale Manucdoc/CBC )

A drop-in centre for children and youth is hosting pop-up events in its community in northwest Toronto this month in the hopes of bringing people together and out of pandemic isolation.

Frontlines, located at 1800 Weston Rd., says the events are part of what it calls its "recovery" plan because the events are aimed at helping young people recover from stress induced by the pandemic. 

An event on Saturday featured featured arts and crafts, games, theatre, music, free food and a youth cooking competition with a celebrity judge. A mural painted by young people was also unveiled.

About 70 people welcomed nearly 200 young people and their families.

Stachen Frederick, executive director of Frontlines, said the events are an attempt to bring people outside in a positive environment.

"I think for our young people, events like this help to showcase that they matter," Frederick said. "The community cares about them."

Omar Anderson, 22, cooked a shrimp alfredo for the culinary competition. He's been involved with the organization since he was 12 and says it has helped to develop his interpersonal skills.

"I wasn't really a social person, but once I got more into the culinary program, I started socializing more with people," Anderson said.

Celebrity chef Roger Mooking, best known as host of Man Fire Food on the Cooking Channel, judged the competition. He said social skills are just one thing taught by the culinary arts.

"There is critical thinking. There's quick adaptive thinking. There is time management, organizational skills," he said.

Mila Khanna, a mother, brought her two young boys, aged seven and five, to the event.

"It's really nice to see some of our neighbours that we haven't seen in a while and to know that our community is still really here to support us," she said.

More community events, including a basketball tournament and an obstacle course, are planned throughout August.

Frontlines is known in its community as a safe place — a haven — for children and youth and as a place that welcomes everyone.

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