A visit to L'antre-Jeunes of Mercier-Est

After school, the youth of Montreal’s inner-city neighbourhood Mercier-Est can get together at L’Anse, a friendly, stimulating place where attentive youth services workers listen to them.

Samuel Brosseau and Maxime Bombardier test their skill at pool. "I meet new people here, I make friends.
It's super fun!", said Maxime.

It’s no fun to move and end up in a new neighbourhood when you’re twelve years old and already making the transition from primary to secondary school. Samuel Brosseau did not know a soul in sight when he walked by the premises of l’Antre-Jeunes, at 8615 Hochelaga Street, not far from Promenade Bellerive Park.  “I was intrigued,” he said. He went inside. After two days, he had made friends, and since then l’Antre is where he can be found after school. Ping-pong, billiards, music, it all interests him. “I like to move!” he exclaimed during a conversation following a game of pool with Maxime Bombardier, age 16.

L’Antre-Jeunes is well known in Mercier-Est. For 25 years now, the large, brightly coloured locale has been welcoming youth age 12 to 17. In addition to the pool table, there is a ping-pong table, two football tables, several computers and a lounge area furnished with second-hand sofas. On the wall, on the projection screen connected to a computer, YouTube videos stream one after the other. An open door reveals a music studio complete with a recording studio where a drum set, guitars, hand drums and keyboards await the youth.

The music studio lets the youth record their performances.

A celebrity wall is full of photos taken at outings and parties organized by the youth: Halloween party, Back to School party, Zumbathon, etc. In short, the joint is jumping!

All this is great, but L’Antre-Jeunes offers its young charges something greater by far: its youth services workers. “We do more than just keep them busy,” explained Maxim Matteau, who has been working at the social organization for nine years. The team of youth services workers made prevention and education their mission, not by lecturing but by coming up with the right mix of leisure and entertainment activities with psychological and social supervision. On the agenda, everyday situations for these teens such as: prevent joining street gangs, build self-esteem and provide information on substance abuse and bullying.

Maxim Matteau and Anne-Marie Dessureault, two dynamic youth services workers
dedicated to the young people here.

“My greatest satisfaction is to see young people who, at age 18, come back to engage with people younger than they are. It’s a sign that we made a mark,” said Maxim Matteau. The hardest thing? “Feeling helpless about certain situations. But when a young person needs more specific help, we refer him or her to a resource person, and we make the effort to do so in a very personalized way to reassure him or her.”

L’Antre-Jeunes is the home of L’Antre, of course, but also of Garage des Jeunes, another locale in the Thomas Chapais housing area. In addition, the youth services workers hold workshops on school premises. Furthermore, L’Antre-Jeunes of Mercier-Est runs an HLM-Family intervention program and a street work program.

2016 Wine and Cheese

The annual Wine and Cheese fundraiser organized by L’Antre-Jeunes is being held this year under the honorary presidency of Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the Port of Montreal. “The mission of L’Antre-Jeunes is a perfect match with the values that the Port of Montreal supports in its neighbouring community, The evening raised $95,000. Thanks, everyone!” she said.

We wish L’Antre-Jeunes continued success!