Yousif's Story

PATHWAY TO SUCCESS - Youth First After School Program

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Yousif’s family came to Canada after fleeing wars in both Iraq and Syria. Yousif says his family sold all their possessions to come here including his toys, and he didn’t speak one word of English. He was 11 years old.

“I didn’t even know how to say’ yes’ or’ no’ [in English]. It was very difficult. When I was trying to hang out with friends I couldn’t find any because no one would understand me so it was difficult for them to be with me, so that was very hard,” he says.

When he enrolled at Catholic Central high school he struggled with English, until he found the Youth First Homework Club, supported by United Way.

“You get lots of help. There’s lots of friends. You make friends easily even though you speak two different languages and no one is understanding each other, but you still make friends,” he says. “And the helpers who volunteer, they were very good. They helped you with your English – anything you needed.”

Yousif agrees that it’s unusual for teens to ‘have fun’ doing homework, but he says it’s a social atmosphere that draws him to spend time there after school. Students often try to pursued the group’s program coordinator, Heather Dupuis, to stay later into the evening to ‘have more fun’, he says.

His strong marks in math and science eventually led him to volunteer tutoring other students.

“So it was like giving and getting at the same time.”

Yousif wants to go on to college or university to study mechanical engineering, and he hopes the Homework Club will help him get the grades to do so. The Youth First After-School program was originally slated to assist 20 students in its first year, but over 133 students have signed up – an average of 35 students attending daily. This year 187 students took part.

For many kids, succeeding in school means overcoming a language barrier, and adjusting to a new life in Canada. 






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United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County
300 Giles Boulevard East, Unit A1
Windsor, Ontario N9A 4C4
t: 519-258-0000 | f: 519-258-2346
Charitable Registration #: 10816 0334 RR0001