Shak’s World looks to open downtown centre in November, providing services and support to youth

 Shanicka Edwards, President and CEO of Shak’s World, enters the Shak’s World Community Centre location at 59-A Maple Avenue. Photo courtesy of Michèle Newton/Konvo Media 

Shak’s World Community Centre is set to open its doors in November, operating from a downtown location at 59-A Maple Avenue.
The centre, Shak’s World says in a press release, will provide youth from across Simcoe County with access to elite-level programs, deploying basketball, innovation, and mentorship as a bridge to youth employment, education, and training. The new, youth-led urban community development project is designed to tackle some of the underlying issues that can lead to youth addiction, homelessness, and mental health challenges. 
“My life experiences have shown me how important it is to have a community and to have support. I know how opening Shak’s World Community Centre fills a critical need for belonging, health and wellness and inclusion in our community,” says Shanicka Edwards, president and CEO, Shak’s World.
“Without a community, especially as a young person, you may end up in the wrong places. If no one turns you around, you could remain there for the rest of your life.”
Through low-cost and free programming and services, SWCC plans to encourage a positive and stable environment for youth to take steps in defining and implementing direction in their lives. The programming leads are all 29 years of age and under, including a complement of mentors from the National Basketball Youth Mentorship Program (NBYMP), and coaches from Canada Basketball. 
Ontario Basketball also supports Shak’s World initiatives with giveaways and prizes. 
“Mentorship is such an underrated concept that many youth unfortunately do not have access to. By connecting youth to various pro basketball athletes, coaches and other parents that they can relate to, this will undoubtedly help to build confidence, courage and their awareness between right and wrong,” says Kevin Wilson, Founder and President of NBYMP.
The centre will welcome youth from across Simcoe County between the ages of seven and 17, to participate in a one-year, three-phase community integration program and 10-week basketball training programs. There will be a specific focus on engaging youth from several of Barrie’s higher-need neighbourhoods. To overcome COVID-19 limitations to in-person interactions, SWCC will use technology to effectively implement their programming.
Helping to finance SWCC is the monthly rental of several community offices in the building. While there are still rental opportunities, the local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association and NewPath have committed to renting office space for the upcoming 12 months.
Financial support for SWCC through sponsorships and donations, including in-kind donations (like sporting goods), is needed on an ongoing basis. Donations may be made by e-transfer to or through PayPal. Inquiries for monthly and occasional rental space may also be made by emailing
“Everything I’ve done and continue to do, is to … build the community I never had when I was a kid,” Edwards says.
“It takes a community to raise children. It is going to take all of us, together, to give these youth a safe space they deserve and need to be successful today—with all the resources, activities, and access to like-minded people.”