“When I started OUTLoud, it was to provide additional support in northern Ontario for LGBTQ youth. With Covid, I quickly realized that every child needed a space to be.
He realizes that Seth Compton has never been away more than 24 hours from the safe space he and his team have created at OUTLoud until this week.
He admits that the team sent by Giant Tiger to renovate and remodel the OUTLoud headquarters had to take his keys away from him to keep the entire transformation of the former Summit room at the Voyager Inn in North Bay secret.
“His children,” as Compton, the executive director of OUTLoud calls them, arrive in droves to participate in the unveiling. Emotions range from amazement to shock to happiness.
While there were also many tears shed by OUTLoud supporters, on Wednesday all were tears of joy at the success and growth in just a few years of Compton’s vision of an inclusive place for children. to visit and always know they have a place to call home.
“It’s what I’ve been dreaming about for two years, everything here is as I see it in my head,” Compton says. “It wasn’t something I could afford on my own – we built OUTLoud based on donations and items donated to the space – making it come together like a dream.”
National retailer Giant Tiger learned about OUTLoud’s story through the owners of their two local outlets. The relationship began with North Bay stores donating proceeds from the sale of Pride merchandise and evolved into local owners advocating for the company to help make Compton’s OUTLoud vision a reality.
Lakeshore Giant Tiger owner Sean Wilson says, “Seth has an incredible passion for the community and these kids.
Compton says he owes a debt of gratitude to the owners of the Lakeshore and Algonquin Giant Tiger sites and the company as a whole not only for their contributions to OUTLoud, but also for their commitment to inclusivity in their hiring practices. and commercial.
Alison Scarlett of Giant Tiger’s public relations team says, “Giving back and making a difference in the communities we call home is simply who we are. We are proud to partner with our local stores on initiatives that will have a tangible and lasting impact. in these communities.
Taryn Reilly is the Team Leader of Giant Tiger’s Employee Resource Group and says she got involved with the project because OUTLoud provides a safe space for young people. “Obviously 2SLGBTQIA+ is really important here and we want to support young people and all their allies. That’s very important.”
Giant Tiger pitched the project to Canadian designer, writer and TV host Steven Sabados who quickly got on board and molded Compton’s ideas into the fun and practical design features seen in the revamped space, including a play area spacious, plenty of adaptable seating and workspaces, and a quiet space complete with comfy sofas and stacks of books to read.
In total, Giant Tiger contributed approximately $50,000 to OUTLoud’s new look.
Compton says many of the design ideas come from how he sees his children using the space on a daily basis. The indoor skateboard room has proven so popular that OUTLoud is exploring fundraising and developing a separate indoor skate park to meet demand.
See related: Skateboarding offers courses that go far beyond the half-pipe
OUTLoud’s reach brings together more young people from all walks of life.
“When I started OUTLoud it was to be that extra support in Northern Ontario for LGBTQ youth. With Covid, I quickly realized that every child needed a space to be,” says Compton.
See also: OUTLoud North Bay deemed essential
OUTLoud has 300 young members and Compton says they see an average of 80 kids between the ages of 6 and 19 a day. A Compton-led team with 17 school-age members provides peer-to-peer support for the group and part of a $15,000 donation from Giant Tiger will go towards job training to help “fill gaps in Mental Health in Northern Ontario.”
Compton confirms that he is receiving calls to set up similar safe spaces for young people in various locations. “It’s a long-term view, not something that’s going to happen overnight. I want to make sure my children are taken care of here first.”