WBYO’s new digs at 646 Portage Ave


For 23 years, West Broadway Youth Outreach (WBYO) has worked to provide a safe, fun and caring environment where children have opportunities to learn and grow. They have upwards of thirty program areas, all with the goal of encouraging kids in their education, creating accountability, and teaching life skills. With more than forty kids coming through their door each day, they have often felt like they were bursting at the seams.

For 18 of those 23 years, they have been based at Crossways in Common, adding a second site on Broadway at Balmoral three years ago to meet demand. However, they have always hoped to bring their programming together under one roof. In late 2015, an opportunity to make this happen arose in the form of a huge storefront on Portage Avenue. WBYO wanted this to be their dream space. Not only would it provide for all their programming needs, (kitchen, art room, music room, library, abundant homework tables, etc.), but this new space would belong to the kids of WBYO, and as much as possible, be rendered in WBYO’s signature color, striking yellow!

To see their dream space realized, WBYO’s Director, Ken Opaleke and Assistant Director, Ray Eskritt, met with Spark. They asked Spark to find them an interior designer who would really listen to their vision of what the new space needed to be. Spark called on our generous, long-time volunteers from Ideate DesignJason Kasper and Elise Timmings.  Over two months, the Jason and Elise worked together Ken and Ray to think through all the ideas and requirements.  Ken described working with Ideate as a very positive experience, “Jason and Elise, took a genuine interest in the work of WBYO, and facilitated our vision of how the space should be used. They never assumed they knew better, and their process was respectful and fun.”

The grand opening of the new West Broadway Youth Outreach happened September 20.  See more coverage on CBC


Before renovations had begun: Ideate and WBYO, seen here specifying all the forthcoming changes


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