Youth dealing with growing pressures from pandemic, drug disaster: Winnipeg assist employee – Winnipeg

One Winnipeg man using his lived experience to help at-risk youth says today’s young people are facing more challenges than ever before.

“I know that our youth today are carrying a significant amount more trauma than I did when I was experiencing houselessness,” said Daniel Emerson, the youth hub program manager at The Link Youth & Family Support.

“And more importantly with the COVID pandemic and the drug crises were seeing in the community, a lot of those things didn’t exist, especially with COVID, but those things didn’t exist when I was 15. So I know that youth carry a lot more challenges and traumas and barriers (now).”

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Emerson says The Link is one of numerous organizations helping youth get their lives on-track – something he experienced firsthand.

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“As a 15-year-old I really struggled with houselessness,” he said, adding that he when he reached out to The Link, formerly known as MacDonald Youth Services, it was a life-changing experience.

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Daniel Emerson says his lived experience helps him connect with youth at The Link.

Marney Blunt / Global News

“That was my first eye-opener to what I wanted to do with my life. So the last 10 years I’ve really worked towards getting myself in this field and working with the youth. And just because I have the lived experience, I share those connections and understanding and empathy with the youth that we are working with.”

The Link offers a variety of services dealing with mental health, addictions, family support, resources, and emergency shelter.

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Chief executive officer Kerri Irvin-Ross says services like these are more critical now than ever before.

“They are invaluable, they’re priceless,” Irvin-Ross told Global News.

“When a family is in crisis and they need a resource and they can call us and we have teams that go out and support that family; it’s incredible the outcomes that can happen.”

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