HeartWood Centre for Community Youth Development is a non-profit community youth development organization that draws on over 30 years of experience to serve youth, community and youth-serving organizations, government agencies and educators.





HeartWood believes that young people possess the passion, skills and insight to be powerful community leaders. We strive to build more compassionate, healthier and stronger communities through youth engagement and leadership. We believe that communities are at their best when youth are engaged and their voices are acknowledged and represented.





Our mission is for youth to see themselves as leaders in their community by encouraging them to share their gifts, interests, insights, skills and passions.



HeartWood’s inclusive, empowering and compassionate approach to community youth development is often referred to as the ‘HeartWood Way’. The ‘HeartWood Way’ is upheld by a set of values that informs the way we approach community youth development.

  • Youth-Centered – We believe that all youth are valuable and can make a contribution today, and we strive to include young people in what we do.
  • Inclusion and Diversity – We believe that diversity is important and we include, welcome and respect diverse backgrounds, needs, and abilities.
  • Appreciative Approach – We use a strength-based approach that honors and builds upon the skills, talents and resources that individuals and communities have.
  • Safe and Supportive – We provide safe and supportive spaces, places and programs where everyone can take risks (physically and emotionally) and try new things.
  • Learning by Doing (i.e. experiential learning) – We provide opportunities for participants to practice and reflect on what they are learning. We also provide these opportunities for ourselves so that we continually learn, innovate, and improve.
  • Meaningful Contribution – We support participants in making a meaningful contribution to others and their communities.
  • Relationships and Partnerships – We strive to create healthy, respectful connections with and between others, particularly between youth and adults. We believe in the power of youth and adults working together to create positive change in each other and to make a difference in their communities.
  • Strong Environmental Ethic – We model and support respect for the natural environment and provide as many opportunities as possible to experience the natural world.