Although each Youville Centre mom is unique, they all share a common motivation to achieve their personal and academic goals. This number one motivation which inspires them to come to our centre each day and work toward a brighter future, is their child. With this in mind, Youville Centre,  M.F. McHugh and St. Nick’s staff strive to deliver holistic programming that will help each young mother succeed, while always keeping their child’s best interest as a focus. We recognize that the high school experience should include fun, engaging, and motivational activities to further support our students’ success.

Youville Centre strives to build a strong community with dynamic activities and events that offer opportunities for all clients to participate. Centre wide events are coordinated with the SOS Peer Leaders. Peer Leaders act as pillars of hope at Youville and inform the types of events and activities that will be engaging for our youth based on changing areas of interest. At Youville Centre we prioritize client feedback and adapt our services to meet the unique needs of each client. We gather client feedback through a variety of ways: CHAT, Student Voice, Focus Groups, Surveys, and through informal channels. This information is reviewed and used in the planning and provision of all of our programs and services. During our closure, due to COVID-19, Youville Centre staff has continued to engage clients by re-imagining how we provide services. Staff have adapted by offering virtual treatment groups, drop-ins, special events, delivery of necessities, and continuing to provide individual support and mental health treatment.

We offer the following student engagement programs to help our students reach their goals and enjoy their time at Youville Centre:


youstore and youbucks

An incentive program, the YouStore hosts brand new donations of clothing, toys, hygiene products and household items we receive from the community. As students display positive school spirit and personal growth, show punctuality, help other students or demonstrate other acts of kindness, they can earn YouBucks (faux dollars) to purchase these new items. This system works well to motivate students each day, as well as to provide them with items they may not be able to afford. During the Christmas season, the YouStore expands to allow our young moms to provide a special Christmas for their children.

Sources of Strength (SOS) Peer Leaders

Sources of Strength (SOS) is a strength-based comprehensive wellness program that promotes connectivity, peer-adult partnerships, and help-seeking behaviors in youths. SOS is one of the first suicide prevention programs that uses Peer Leaders to enhance protective factors and resiliency associated with reducing suicide at the high school population level. SOS is also a best practice project designed to harness the power of peer social networks to change unhealthy norms and culture, ultimately preventing not only suicide, but bullying, intimate partner violence, and substance abuse, while also strengthening mental health. The mission of SOS is to increase help-seeking behaviors and promote connections between peers and caring adults by focusing on safe messaging such as hope, help, and strength. This model increases protective factors around young individuals so that they have strengths to rely on when they face adversity (  Therapists and Case Coordinators select a diverse group of clients to act as Peer Leaders in order to help create a positive Centre environment. Monthly activities are held to build a community of inclusivity and empowerment. The activities are linked to mental health, medical access, healthy activities, spirituality, generosity, family support, mentors, and positive friends. Our Peer Leaders meet with new clients to welcome them to the Centre to provide them with a client perspective and represent Youville at community events. 

mentorship program

Sponsored by TD and Famous5 Ottawa, the Youville Centre Mentorship Program combines group mentoring for all Youville Centre students with one-to-one mentoring for students who are ready for a mentor/mentee relationship. Monthly “Lunch & Learn” events bring professional women from the community to the centre to speak to all of our students on a variety of topics while they enjoy a nutritious lunch. Topics explored include: healthcare careers, legal careers, resiliency, goal setting, inspirational stories, and entrepreneurship. Once a month or more frequently if possible, nine mentor/mentee matches in our one-to-one mentorship program enjoyed lunch meetings off-site. Students enjoyed building relationships with, and receiving encouragement from their mentors.  We look forward to continuing to provide mentorship for our young moms in the future. We would like to thank everyone from the community who helped to make this program a success.

Volunteer mentors are pre-screened and have clear criminal reference checks. They are matched carefully by our multi-disciplinary team with students who are interested in, and ready for, this program. Mentors provide support and encouragement to our young mothers in the areas of parenting, career, and life balance. If you are interested in this program, please find more information and an online Mentorship Volunteer application form here.