Girls In Youth Spaces: An Evaluation of Young Women’s Experiences Accessing Youth Drop-Ins


Girls In Youth Spaces: An Evaluation of Young Women’s Experiences Accessing Youth Drop-Ins

5 years ago 5 years ago Published by Leave your thoughts
This report was published by Social Planning Toronto.


Girls face enhanced challenges during adolescence. They are more likely to experience a decline in self-esteem, they are sometimes encouraged to compete with each other, and they tend to hold unrealistic expectations for themselves. Teenage girls face a significant amount of pressure from themselves, their parents, and society, and commonly require extra support to effectively cope with it.

Since there is a gap of 20-25 hours per week between school schedules and parents’ work schedules, after-school program providers can play an important role in supporting the positive development of adolescent girls. Effective and responsive youth programs have the potential to nurture young people’s social, emotional, and physical well-being by providing them with the tools needed to navigate through life’s challenges. While children in their early and middle years may be inclined to register in formal after-school programs, teenagers would rather participate in self-directed activities with their friends and for this reason require comfortable and safe spaces.

In Toronto, St. Stephen’s Community House initiated a groundbreaking and widely-valued approach to youth drop-ins that was truly made by youth for youth. Dedicated space, committed staff, and responsive programming separated St. Stephen’s from other drop-ins. Community advocates were inspired by the impact it was having and in 2013 pushed the City of Toronto to adopt similar standards. As a result of these efforts, the City committed to opening 10 enhanced youth spaces based on St. Stephen’s model.

Shortly after the first four enhanced youth spaces opened, Social Planning Toronto (SPT) undertook a community-led research project to better understand the experiences of girls within these spaces. Focus groups were held on site at Parkway Forest, Antibes, Heron Park, and North Kipling Community Centres. This report outlines the key findings and recommendations for service providers.


Queiser, S. (2016). Girls in youth spaces: an evaluation of young women’s experiences accessing youth drop-ins. Toronto, ON: Social Planning Toronto. Retrieved from

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