Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize an organization in Edmonton that makes a huge difference in the lives of young people at risk.
In 1982, Youth Empowerment and Support Services, YESS, opened its doors to fill the gap between Child and Family Services and adult support systems for young people between the ages of 15 and 20. For some very important years, these young people had no one to turn to, no assistance for housing, no one to help them through high school, and no one to help them eat, sleep, or live safely. It is not surprising that a lot of these young people ended up on the streets, became involved with drugs or prostitution, or just gave up.
These kids are from across all demographic spectra, and many have faced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; abandonment; mental health issues; and substance abuse. Some have never been taught age-appropriate life skills and do not know how to look after themselves properly. An increasing number are refugees or immigrants. All are suffering and seeking guidance, stability, and a caring environment in which to grow and achieve their goals.
YESS provides shelter, safety, and hope for youths facing difficult realities. I am proud to be one of their local champions and urge all Edmontonians to support their efforts.