The Woolwich Observer

New program aims to teach local Black youth business and leadership skills

- Justine Fraser Observer Staff


SKILLS TO A typically overlooked group – young Black people – Waterloo Region’s Kind Minds Family Wellness will be running its first impact leadership and entreprene­urial program in March.

Filling that gap is in keeping with the group’s mandate to provide culturally grounded advocacy for the Black community that addresses the likes of education and employment. The organizati­on determined many Black youths felt excluded from similar programs already in place.

“Many don’t feel like ... it’s inclusive for them,” said executive director of Kind Minds, Ajirioghen­e Evi-Cobbinah. “This program is aimed at filling the gaps. We want them to learn new skills that will help them succeed. We want to be there after the training to make sure they feel supported.”

With funding from a Region of Waterloo Community Innovation Grant, the program is looking for up to 20 Black youths between the ages of 15 to 21 and enrolled in high school to register to gain new skills in the business world and learn about what it’s like to be a business owner or an entreprene­ur in the region.

“Our goal is to help put them forward on a path and then years later after they open a business or something they say, ‘oh, yeah, I took that program and it helped me get to where I am.’ We would be so happy – that is our overall goal. We want to empower Black youth who don’t feel part of the Waterloo Region community.”

Wanting to make a lasting impact in the region, Kind Minds Family Wellness created the eightmonth program that looks to empower Black youth to address racism, start their own business, and help them feel part of the community.

“Some businesses they may not even know [have] Black business owners. We want to connect them with

mentors and give them a chance to learn what it’s like to run a business. How to do the finances, everything, the daily life. We want to teach them what it’s like to run a business and deal with things like racism or discrimina­tion while working,” said Evi-Cobbinah.

The new program includes daytrips, workshops, meeting entreprene­urs and connecting with other community organizati­ons. Black youth will learn more about being in the business world in the region and will get to demonstrat­e what they’ve learned.

The regional grant of $50,000 allowed Kind Minds Family Wellness to offer the Black Youth Impact Program this year and next, to empower local Black youth.

“We want to give them tools to succeed, and this program will help connect them in the community. We know they feel excluded from many programs here in the region, they don’t think they can apply to them, it’s maybe not meant for them. It’s a bit of why Kind Minds Family Wellness was created, to fill the gaps, to reach them, to empower them and educate them.”

Registrati­on is now open. To register for the program or for more informatio­n about the organizati­on and the Black Youth Impact Program, visit www.kindmindsf­amilywelln­

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