Sun Youth moving back to the mountain and Park Ave.

Thirty years ago Sid Stevens wrote his first column for The Senior Times. It was called Sid Stevens’ Notebook. With those words, our collaboration began.

Sid was no stranger to journalism. In 1954 at 13, along with Earl De La Perralle, 9, he created the Clark Street Sun, a handwritten community newspaper that the boys offered readers for 5 cents a read. The profits would be used to finance sports and recreation activities for disadvantaged neighbourhood youth.

“We wanted our message to be heard,” Stevens says. “The only way we’d get recognition was by publishing a newspaper where we talked about ourselves, ‘cause nobody else did.”

In the late 1980s, Senior Times publisher Barbara Moser gave Sun Youth another chance to have our voice heard and a new audience to hear it. “[The Senior Times] opened the door for other newspapers to offer space to community-based organizations. Barbara was the first one,” Stevens recalls.  A lot has changed since his first column especially in regards to politics. “The politicians used to listen more. They’re not listening now as much as they could.”

A big change is that this month Sun Youth will move out of Baron Byng after 37 years of growing, caring and sharing inside those old school walls.  As of mid-November Sun Youth is opening a new temporary service center at 6700 Parc Ave (near Beaumont) from where they will distribute Christmas baskets. The Sports & Recreation programs including the senior club will temporarily relocate to the White House on Mont-Royal. The White House is at street level and a 5-minute walk from Baron Byng. In a way Sun Youth is going back to its roots, having occupied this small city building from 1967 to 1981.

While that move was a major step forward for Sun Youth, the first big break came with the move to Baron Byng, but it created new challenges. “We went from eight rooms and a basement to Baron Byng High School: 36 rooms and a gym,” Stevens says. “We had a phone bill that was very expensive. Imagine, we had one phone at Parc Ave and the White House and then had phones in every room. We had to hire a caretaker: Earl and I used to wipe the floor every day. The heating went, we tried to fix it…”.

Sid and Earl’s dream was to have everything under one roof. Sadly Earl De La Perralle will never see that dream realized. He passed away June 19. The organization is carrying on his legacy to make his dream a reality. There is no official timeline when Sun Youth will be under one roof but estimates are between three and five years.

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