The Role of After School-Programs in Promoting Youth Inclusion in Rural and Small Communities: The Case of the Fusion Youth and Technology Centre, Ingersoll, Ontario


  • Sarah Christie Ophea
  • Allan C LAuzon SEDRD, University of Guelph


Rural communities face many challenges including the retention of their youth. Rural youth also face challenges, particularly in comparison to urban youth. Rural youth experience higher levels of morbidity and mortality as a result of risky behaviours, and face a different set of challenges in regard to issues of social inclusion/exclusion when compared to urban youth. One way in which these risks and challenges can be mitigated is through the provision of afterschool programs. This study begins by asking the question what impact does the provision of the Fusion Youth and Technology Centre, a progressive afterschool program, have on rural youth's feelings of social inclusion/exclusion? A qualitative study was undertaken and the results suggest that the provision of an afterschool program does provide an inclusive environment where youth feel cared for and connected, are allowed to explore and develop skills, competencies in a safe and secure environment that they experience as 'their place'. However, they still report feeling excluded from the larger community. Keywords: rural youth; afterschool programs, social inclusion, social exclusion

Author Biographies

Sarah Christie, Ophea

Sarah Christie recently completed an M.Sc. in capacity development and extension and is currently employed by Ophea, a Toronto based organization that deals with issues health and youth.

Allan C LAuzon, SEDRD, University of Guelph

Dr. Al Lauzon is a professor in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development. His interests are in rural systems with an emphasis on education and training systems, capacity development and community development.