As a community, we have definitely been faced with new challenges in 2020 and collectively we have struggled to understand what our new normal will be. In order to respond to these ever-changing and unprecedented times, Community Living Mississauga examined how best to provide summer opportunities for the teens who have been participating in our programs for years. Through brainstorming and by listening to the families who have relied on our Summer Teen Activity Program, we were able to adapt the program to reflect the new community guidelines and norms.

The 2020 Summer Teen Activity Program (STAP) offered families two options for participation and support. In order to embrace the excitement that comes from a warm summer day, the Summer Teen Activity Program offered an outdoor park option. “STAP in the Parks” took place at three different municipal parks throughout Mississauga and provided an opportunity for individuals and staff to experience the outdoors with various activities. Individuals enjoyed hiking, playing soccer, Frisbee tag, conditioning circuits as well as jewelry making and landscape painting. Enjoying the outdoors together provided individuals with an opportunity to build friendships and prepare for being back in the classroom in September.

Cathryn, the mother of one of the teens who is enjoying participating in the program said “It’s been a blessing to be able to get my son outdoors and socializing with someone outside family!”

While planning the summer programs for this summer, we recognized that not all individuals or families were comfortable getting together with people outside of their immediate families. In order to ensure all individuals felt included and welcome within the summer programs, a Virtual STAP option was created. Our virtual program was developed to provide teens the opportunity to connect with a summer staff over the internet on an individualized or small group basis. The staff hosted movie days, lead games, competed against the teens in on line gaming and provided an opportunity to talk and meet others.

Jay, one of the teens who has participated in small group online activities for several weeks so far this summer said “I like being with my friends. I like the drawing activities and the videos we watch”.

Despite the many challenges that 2020 has delivered, the Summer Teen Activity Program continued to provide opportunities for teens to connect with each other and have fun!