It’s hard to be a kid, especially when you feel different from your peers.

My parents couldn’t afford to sign me up for sports or summer camp, and as a member of the LGBTQ community, I was the victim of bullying.

My first experience with the YMCA was in high school as part of a program I was taking. I was blown away by how accepting people were. So when it was time for my placement in college, I jumped at the chance to work at the YMCA of Oakville.

I knew right away I had found a place to belong. I had the opportunity to interact with different people of all ages and everyone was so welcoming.Tyler

I met Carter at the Just the Guys program and saw myself in him right away. Although he acted out, I could tell he was looking for a place to belong, just like me. I shared my story with him and we built a relationship based on mutual respect. His behaviour started to improve and everyone noticed the change.

There are thousands of kids out there like Carter. Many aren’t able to find the support they need. Thanks to the Y, Carter and I both found a place to belong. Now I want to make a difference in a career that helps other kids find a place to belong too.

-Tyler