705 Tribe currently gathers at the Rec Room at 50 York Street in Haliburton on Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. to about 7 p.m. but organizers are looking for a permanent space and community sponsors to help host the evenings. /Photo submitted by Rowan Tofflemire

NewsNewsA space for youth by youth

A space for youth by youth

By Sue Tiffin

Published May 1 2018

A promotional video for 705 Tribe created by HHSS student Rowan Tofflemire and posted online shows clips of a busy space filled with young people playing pool playing music and generally just hanging out together.

The scenes are representative of exactly what co-organizers of the space – Seamus Lynch Xander Petrie and Wes Stoughton – are hoping they can establish in the community: a safe open place for youth of all ages to go. So far they said it’s off to a good start.

705 Tribe gathers at the Rec Room at 50 York Street in Haliburton on Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. to about 7 p.m. Through their co-op program at HHSS and with support from parent and community volunteers Lynch Petrie and Stoughton opened the doors to their peers in February to great success. The space which can be walked to from Haliburton schools allows visitors to get on stage with musical instruments including guitars and a drum kit play video games or pool listen to music and feast on food provided by parent and community volunteers.

“I was just saying youth in our community need something to do because I feel like every weekend or after school kids are looking for something to do and they end up just going and doing nothing” said Lynch. “It’s depressing. You’re just sitting at home trying to find something to do and so a music therapy hub of some sort would be a good idea.”

Parents and teens in the area have expressed concern that they feel isolated while community groups have gathered to offer guidance and support in the wake of suicides last year and a heightened sense of bullying and mental health challenges for youth in the area.

“I just feel like after school there’s nothing for me. I’m just going home and thinking about things. Just going home and doing nothing. Something like this actually brings everyone together and this sense of community with friends” said Lynch.

Though the 705 Tribe community gathering space offers the chance to play or listen to music that isn’t necessarily the focus for everyone said Lynch – and that’s OK. It’s there for those who are helped by it.

“Music has always spoken out to me and I know it speaks out to a lot of my friends” he said. “Therapeutically I know it helps me a lot and there are I know a lot of people in this community it [helps] especially with some hardships that have gone through the community in the past year.”

The three HHSS students are clearly passionate about the project and have been brainstorming ideas to ensure it thrives despite challenges that include the building the venue is in being sold. They plan on putting together a package to present to businesses and groups in the community in order to garner support in the form of donations so they can continue offering the space for youth the likes of which they said has not been available to them before.

“That’s why this happened” said Lynch. “The drive and the creative drive but a little frustration too. Why has something like this not already happened?”

Several of the nights have seen more than 20 people gathered and at one point more than 30 with the help of promotional tools like printed posters and posts on social media and apps advertising the Wednesday night events.

“A few weeks ago … we had a really really good turn-out” said Lynch. “The place was packed. There were people learning to play guitar a girl on drums who had never learned to play drums before we had an open mic everyone was eating spaghetti. It was just a good time good energy and there were lots of kids saying ‘this is really great this needs to happen more.’”

The teens are particularly motivated after they said their group found strength and comfort in each other after the death of a friend last year.

“There’s even people throughout these last couple of weeks I didn’t know things about them and I’ve known them my entire life … coming here made them comfortable” said Petrie.

“Serious open talks that have opened us up for sure” said Lynch. “Just in this space feeling comfortable that’s kind of what we want – people to come here and feel safe and not have to be scared to go home and be by yourself. You can be with your friends and talk about the things you’re scared to talk about with everybody and just feel like you’re not alone.”

Most importantly they want the space to be their own to shape a place to be together that’s open to all. Admission is free to everyone.

They’re hoping 705 Tribe will be inclusive and have discussed ways to ensure anyone can come even if they live outside of Haliburton village without transportation.

They also want to have a computer with video editing software available for people to create.

“There will be some people that are just dying to get on stage there are some people that are just dying to hear some music there’s some people they’re not even coming for the music they’re just coming to hang out” said Stoughton. “That’s what we want: every single type of person to be able to come and feel comfortable here.”

“Just knowing you can come here and it’s completely free of judgment just be as musical and just be yourself fully and everyone is just going to accept it I think it’s a great space” said Lynch.

705 Tribe at the Rec Room is open on Wednesday nights after school until about 7 o’clock at night.

A concert featuring performances by Wescali Citizen X Hollows and River and Sage Christiano will be held by the 705 Tribe at the Rec Room on Friday May 4 at 7 p.m. Admission to the show is $7.