About TYSS

     Toronto Youth Street Stories (TYSS) grew out of the Youth Pathways Project (YPP) conducted by researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the University of Toronto.
     The YPP study focussed on issues of ethnic and sexual diversity, drug use, and mental health faced by youth living in high-risk environments on or close to the street. The study generated new knowledge about the quality of life experienced by street-involved youth, as well as factors that influence their pathways into either a more stable and healthy adulthood, or a continued existence on the street. The YPP findings are critical to informing policy related to substance abuse treatment, child protection, mental health promotion, and violence prevention in street-involved youth.

     While conducting interviews and surveys among youth in Toronto, the YPP team noticed that the youth were articulate and surprisingly candid about their lives and experiences on and off the streets. The insights and anecdotes that they shared gave an extra dimension to the data and statistics generated by the surveys and interviews. These youth obviously had a desire to share their stories, but often lacked the means and opportunity to do so. TYSS was created as an innovative way to collect these stories, disseminate some of the knowledge gained from these studies, and paint a multi-dimensional picture of the realities experienced by youth living on or near the streets of a major Canadian city.

     In the summer of 2007, a team of researchers and facilitators organized a series of writing workshops at different youth agencies in downtown Toronto. With the assistance of peer facilitators, local authors led the workshops by sharing their writing and challenging the youth to create their own characters, rhythms, and writing styles. The youth wrote stories, poems, and short essays dealing with issues one might expect from a street-involved population, such as physical and sexual abuse, drug use, and violence. But they also wrote about pregnancy, parenting, work, money, family, love, music, beauty, religion, sexuality, isolation, and joy.

      We at TYSS feel privileged to have been able to work with these youth, thrilled that they trusted us with their work, and proud of what they have accomplished.

YPP Dissemination Team
Patricia Erickson
Katharine King
Tara Fidler
Christine Wong-Chong
Nora Ottaway

Lori Ross
Chris Wekerle

YPP Research Team
Edward Adlaf
Jennifer Butters
Patricia Erickson
Deborah Goodman
Andy Hathaway
Paul Links
Lori Ross
Carol Strike
Chris Wekerle