This Neighbourhood House Impact Story is shared by Kiko Kung (they/them), Youth Engagement Facilitator from Alexandra Neighbourhood House. Written in their own words, Kiko's story it is one of belonging, inclusive safe spaces, and strong youth voices. We hope you enjoy it!

When I was 15 years old, I moved from downtown Vancouver to the small community of White Rock. It took me a long time to make friends that accepted me for who I was as a depressed, queer, and Asian kid, and I was looking for something to do after school rather than mope around at home.

One day, a friend introduced me to the Youth Collective volunteer group at Alexandra Neighbourhood House (Alex House). The collective was a collaboration between youth workers and youth in our community, and their mission was to create a safe, sober, inclusive space in
White Rock – a place for youth to meet new friends and explore their passions, and get support for any challenges they had.

From age 12, I was always worried if I was going to ‘make it’ – I started struggling with suicidal ideation then and still do. I didn’t feel like I was capable of anything. But through the Youth Collective meetings, that started to change a lot! The consistency of meetings gave me something positive to look forward to if I was having a rough week. The best part was the feeling of empowerment I got from just being in the Collective. No one pushed me into doing what I was terrified to do, but instead provided opportunities for me to grow my skills. They trusted me to know what my talents were and how I could help, but I still felt encouraged to take on anxiety-inducing public speaking roles because I knew the Collective had my back.

Now I work at the Youth Space which just hit its fifth anniversary! I facilitate the Rainbow Connection program for LGBTQ2S+ youth, and also give presentations and write grants to gain support for the project. I’m a part of the Strategic Planning Core Team at ANHBC, which makes me really excited because neighbourhood houses get to set an example in our community of how non-profit organizations can implement decolonizing practices. Neighbourhood houses gave me a chance to be myself and find my voice, and an ongoing opportunity to foster the voices of other youth like me!

Thank you for sharing your story Kiko! Learn more about the Alex House Youth Collective here. 🌈❤️