My mom started homeschooling me in Grade 6. I was struggling with OCD and being bullied at school. I didn’t fit into the regular public school system.

Not long after, my mom started bringing me to homeschool programs at the Y where she got a chance to talk to other homeschooling parents while I socialized with the kids. The difference in me was night and day.

As I grew older, I went from Y homeschool programs to volunteering and eventually working in Game On, an active games program. It’s a whole mix of kids — some homeschooled, some with anxiety disorders or autism — but all kids like me who needed a place to fit in.

Coming to the Y and helping other kids forced me to step outside of myself. It also created a sense of responsibility in me to provide guidance to these kids. And the responsibility grew each year.

It was last August when I realized how deeply I felt this sense of responsibility, and how important my role here was. A bunch of the kids in my program were getting ready to go off to university and they were nervous. I knew they needed guidance — to know no matter what happened, they were going to be okay.

I wrote them a good-bye letter with advice for their journey ahead. I told them, even though there is no script to follow, and a bigger stage to perform on, what they’ve learned from the Y will always be with them, just like the family they’ve found here.

It was one of the most powerful, impactful moments in my life. With those words, I realized that by finding a place to belong, I had been given the chance to help others belong too.

– Will

Did you know?

The Oakville Y has been running homeschool Game On programs for many years, offering children and youth an opportunity to connect with other homeschooling kids, be active and develop leadership skills.