Momentum empowers Scarborough youth

Kurt Kleiner
Guled Arale

Guled Arale knows what it's like to grow up feeling alienated. Now he helps empower Scarborough youth faced with the same problem.

When Guled Arale was growing up in Scarborough, he’d always felt alienated from the larger community—and powerless to do much about it. Now he’s helping other youth who might feel the same way.

Arale, a fourth-year city studies major and vice-president of external relations for the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU), was an organizer of the MOMENTUM: Make a Change Scarborough Youth Forum on February 19, which brought 125 local high-school students to campus.

The goal of the annual one-day youth empowerment conference at UTSC is to help forge young leaders by arming them with the knowledge and skills to form community action networks and become effective local advocates. High-school students from the Eastern GTA participated in discussions on a wide range of topics—from self-awareness and education to advocacy and the criminal justice system.

The MOMENTUM initiative fits well with UTSC’s commitment to engagement with the local community, Arale says. The university is a partner in the East Scarborough Storefront, a collaborative organization of local community groups and social service agencies, and UTSC students volunteer in several community outreach programs.

“There’s an environment now where people feel they have to get involved and do something,” says Arale. “The university is playing a key role in that effort.”