There was controversy in Sault Ste. Marie last summer after an 18-year-old was arrested for spray painting the word ‘Bored’ in prevalent places around the city.
That arrest spawned an anonymous youth-led movement called ‘BoredYouthSault’ that included a protest outside the courthouse and members of that group speaking out that more was needed for youth in the city — that kids were just, well, bored.
In September 2016, that group changed its name to ‘Youth Odena’ and one year later they’re a more official-like group with 12 core members programming seven nights a week.
Young people with nothing to do can lead to increased crime, drug use, and lack of civil engagement, said Youth Odena organizer Caceila Trahan.
"We thought, kids are bored in this city... we needed to something about the crime rate," said Trahan.
Not only is the group for youth but its also all youth led — even administrators are under 29.
Their ultimate goal is to create a youth centre in the Sault.
On Sunday, Youth Odena collaborated with Fringe North to hold the ‘Sault’s Biggest Community Box Fort’.
The group went around to local businesses and collected 237 boxes that kids ended up crawling through and painting on Sunday.
Organizers say that it’s a metaphor for ‘what it means for youth to build a safe space’.
Youth Odena is currently run out of the homes of volunteers.
They said they changed their name because they thought 'Odena' — which means 'where hearts come together' in Anishnabek — was a better descriptor of the group.
This year the group received a grant from the Laidlaw Foundation to hold run 80 workshops this summer in different donated venues across the city, including the Indian Friendship Centre, the Gore Street Café, Algoma University, and Sault College.
Topics are wide ranging and include cover letter writing, Sex talks with Erich, Water Petitions, and Building Confident Leaders.
Throughout the summer they are collecting data and plan to use that to make an argument that youth spaces are in need.
The group's full programming can be found on their website.