Through participating in the TimelapseTO workshop as a Youth Ambassador in Scarborough, I have gained communication skills and insight on the topic of youth engagement. In addition, I have also enhanced my knowledge with respects to transit development in Scarborough, an ongoing and debated topic which I previously had limited knowledge on. Aside from gaining knowledge and various communication skills, the workshop has provoked me to reflect on youth leadership and engagement as a whole and the challenges we face when seeking to improve our communities.
It was because of my experiences as a Youth Ambassador that I have gained a truly important communication skill: the ability to maintain neutrality when discussing current topics with individuals in the community. As leaders, we want to incite change, however this task becomes next to impossible when we become biased or do not understand every side of a particular issue. As someone who was new to Toronto, I came into the workshop in Scarborough impartial and unaware of the transit situation in the area. Therefore, I listened to all participants with a diverse range of thoughts on the subject and from that I was able to develop my own perspective on the matter.
Youth engagement, particularly in an urban context, can be difficult to achieve as the voices of youth are often drowned out. However, when youth can directly interact with others in their community as seen in the TimelapseTO workshops, the more easily these voices are heard. Not only are we ambassadors receiving both perspectives of transit related issues, but we also are creating civic dialogue and creating informed citizens of all ages.
As a student interested in all things urban, it was refreshing and fascinating to see how people from all sorts of backgrounds want their communities to change. It’s not often that I can step away from the textbook and experience firsthand how we can work to improve our communities. It’s important that we continue to engage in civic dialogue and build a brighter future for Toronto together.
Jack McCrossin is an intern at the Canadian Urban Institute and studies Urban Studies and Forest Conservation at the University of Toronto. Jack is passionate about many topics such as housing and neighborhood change, food security, and urban ecology.