It started as a place for youth to socialize but has now become a champion for the entire community.
The Dresden Sidestreets Youth Centre opened its doors in 2000 in downtown Dresden. Over the past 21 years, this nonprofit organization has served many youths in the area, giving them a place to hang out after school on most weekday nights.
“Sidestreets provides a safe and enjoyable environment where youth can be involved in programs to help deal with the challenges of everyday life. The goal of the Centre is to give youth a place to meet where they feel safe and that they can call their own,” explains Tyler Ouellette, a Sidestreets Youth Centre board member.
A Staple for Youth and Community
Tyler says that youth often struggle to find things to do after school in their small town. Sidestreets fills the gap by offering programs and activities for local youth aged 11 to 17.
Since opening, Sidestreets has also become a staple in the community, partnering with other organizations in Dresden to help improve the town.
“Sidestreets is a big community supporter and has become a community hub for many different service clubs and organizations. Our priority is to build a greater sense of community among the youth and to develop stronger connections between youth and adults in the wider community,” Tyler says.
When an organization needs a place to meet, or volunteers to help at an event, the Sidestreets team is there to help.
“We have partnered with many different community organizations including the Downtown Dresden BIA for the downtown bench renewal project. We have also partnered with Dresden Shines, which is an initiative established in 2020 in response to pandemic restrictions. Dresden Shines is organized by volunteers and community groups to engage the community during the holiday season in a safe and festive way,” he says.
Sidestreets has become an important resource for youth and the community alike, so the Centre is hoping to give their building a new look.
Lots of New Projects
“We are currently working on a façade renewal project to give our facility a fresh look and increase the building’s energy efficiency to ensure the facility is viable for many years to come. We are excited to revitalize our little section of the downtown core,” Tyler explains.
In the meantime, Sidestreets has a few other projects on the go, including a Haunted Hotel on Halloween night, and the town’s biggest event of the year—the Downtown Dresden Christmas Night Market.
“The Haunted Hotel is new for us this year. We are opening our doors to families from the area to explore the Youth Centre in a new way. It also acts as a fundraiser. In November, myself and some friends and Sidestreets board members are bringing back the Dresden Night Market after being on pause since 2019. It’s an outdoor evening shopping experience featuring local vendors, downtown businesses, lots of lights, music, food, and thousands of visitors from across the region,” he says.
Big Plans for the Holidays
Tyler says that this year, the annual event has partnered with Dresden Shines to bring even more holiday cheer to the town. With all the activities happening in November and December, Dresden has started to call itself “Southwestern Ontario’s Christmas Town”.To learn more about the Sidestreets Youth Centre’s work and to find out what’s happening in Dresden any time of year, visit www.dresden.ca.