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2024 Youth Symposium has Major Impact on over 3,000 Local Grade 8 Students

In a world where there is so much negative news, our next generation needs our help towards strong futures more than ever. That is what makes Child Witness Centre (CWC) so pleased about successfully running its 17th Annual Youth Symposium, after being forced to cancel since 2019.

What It Is About

The 2024 edition of this exciting and unique program was run over three days – from Tuesday, April 16 to Thursday, April 18. A cumulative total of over 3,000 grade 8 students and teachers from almost 50 schools in the area attended at Galaxy Cineplex Cinemas in Guelph (day one) and Waterloo (days two and three).

Students and teachers heard from some of the best speakers in the country for youth audiences. This amazing line-up delivered powerful messages on a variety of important life topics, all in the spirit of spurring these youth onto great success in high school and beyond!

2024 Youth Symposium photo 1 - WEB
2024 Youth Symposium photo 2 - WEB
2024 Youth Symposium photo 4 - WEB

Presentation themes included dreaming big, goal setting, anti-bullying, healthy dating, abstaining from drugs, resiliency, inclusion, accountability, and more. There was a significant focus on the physical, emotional, and mental health of students, as they prepare to begin high school. Students also learned how CWC can support them through the criminal justice system if they are ever a victim or witness of abuse or crime.

What Is the Impact

The difference that Youth Symposium can make in the lives of young people is priceless – and will surely have a long-term ripple effect in our community. A lot of glowing feedback received from students and teachers speaks to how they’ve been equipped with confidence, inspiration, and empowerment to thrive – both now and well into the future.

One student shared what they learned is, “Don't let failures stop you from trying new things. Don't base your decisions on others' opinions. Do what you want even if it might not be cool.” Another student stated a few takeaways for them were, “Be careful online, believe in yourself, and stay positive about life.”

A teacher let CWC know, “This is so valuable for students – someone other than their parents or teachers, reaching them at their level, and inspiring them to think and/or act differently (and for the better)!” Another teacher said, “These presentations fuel and inspire kids to look beyond their phone or bedroom walls, get involved, and be an active member of your community!”

2024 Youth Symposium photo 3 - WEB
2024 Youth Symposium photo 5 - WEB
2024 Youth Symposium photo 6 - WEB

For CWC, it is very rewarding to know Youth Symposium also helps with the prevention of abuse and crime. Last year alone, this organization supported over 1,000 child and youth victims in Waterloo Region, Guelph, and Wellington County – and that number doesn’t include those added to their waitlist. Anything that can be done to avoid harmful incidents from taking place in the first place, and thereby the need for CWC’s services, holds tremendous value.

Much Gratitude

CWC would like to thank everyone who was part of making the 2024 Youth Symposium a major success! While many of their staff were key to making the program happen, they know they couldn’t do it alone – the help of a large crew of volunteers and partners was critical. This incredible three-day event is also made possible by the support of several generous event sponsors.

CWC is already looking forward to their 2025 Youth Symposium!

About Child Witness Centre

The team of professionals at Child Witness Centre walks closely with local young survivors of abuse and crime, and their families, from the time of investigation through to a court resolution. As a result, their clients’ trauma is reduced, and futures become brighter. In facing stretched resources to meet the demand for their services, CWC recently began a “Child Victims Can’t Wait” large fundraising campaign to overcome their first ever waitlist in over 40 years of service. Visit their website to learn more about their impact and how you can help: