When you were a teenager, did you ever wish you could have hung out in a safe place designed specifically for youth? Did you know that this place has existed since the 60's and is called the Maison des jeunes?
Although these youth centres have been around for many years, they are often misunderstood or simply unknown to the public. As youth intervention workers at the Maison des jeunes in Sainte-Dorothée, we wanted to debunk a few myths and explain the concept of a Maison des jeunes.
This statement is incorrect, as youth attendance and participation are never mandatory. A Maison des jeunes is a non-profit organization where young people can participate in educational and recreational activities during open hours. Youth do not sleep in the house and their presence is completely voluntary. Some young people are referred by a teacher, social worker, psychologist, specialized educator, parent, friend, etc.
The Maisons des jeunes are open to all youth between the ages of 12 and 17. Adolescents who visit the centre may be facing a variety of issues depending on their personal circumstances (ex. interpersonal relationships, sexuality, drug and alcohol use, staying in school, rights, crime, etc.). The Maison des jeunes aims to offer an alternative to social isolation by fostering the creation of a positive social support network that brings together young people from different backgrounds and stages of development.
This statement is also wrong. The Maisons des jeunes are community spaces where intervention staff are present to supervise, listen, support, and encourage the youth. They are trained to help young people tackle a number of problems that may affect their lives. In fact, many staff members are pursuing their studies in related fields such as psychology, social work, criminology, etc. Establishing a relationship of trust allows the counsellor to become a resource person for that young person, by offering them active listening and psychosocial support.
Youth can discuss anything and everything with centre staff. The intervention worker is required to ensure that confidentiality is protected to allow the youth to open up fully in a situation where they need help, and therefore is not required to share confidential information with parents unless the youth is at risk of putting another individual or themselves in danger.
The Maisons des jeunes are a non-profit community organization. Therefore, there is no charge for services. There may be costs associated with registering for certain outings, however youth participation in the paid activities is voluntary. Moreover, fundraisers are frequently organized to reduce the costs associated with these activities.
In short, a Maison des jeunes aims to defend and promote the interests and rights of young people. It also aims to enhance and encourage their participation as citizens, in a setting that offers a lively and safe environment. Youth can gather, relax, participate in events, enjoy recreational activities, get involved in the community, and be supported in many aspects of their development. Still have questions or concerns? Don't hesitate to call or visit your local Maison des jeunes. The staff will be happy to answer your questions.
Here is a short video (in French) of Tommy, an intervention worker at the Maison des jeunes in Marigot, explaining to young people how the centre can assist youth with their entry into high school.
References (in French)
Gouvernement du Québec, Thésaurus de l’activité gouvernementale : Maison des jeunes
École Nationale de l’administration publique, Les pratiques des maisons de jeunes au Québec : Engagement des jeunes et défis de l’organisation communautaire jeunesse
211 Grand Montréal, Les maisons des jeunes : lieux d’échanges, de divertissement et d’épanouissement
Regroupement des maisons des jeunes du Québec [RMJQ], À propos des maisons des jeunes