Comic shop in Lower Sackville expands youth-centred approach
Cape and Cowl Comics and Collectibles is moving, looking to new programs and partnerships
December 6, 2019, 4:20 pm ASTLast Updated: December 6, 2019, 4:20 pm
A comic book shop with a twist will move to a new home next week, expanding its space for youth in Lower Sackville.
“As soon as you walk in our new space doors, then you’ll see the drop-in centre,” says Jay Aaron Roy, owner of Cape and Cowl Comics and Collectibles.
“It’s going to be bright lime green and will be right there.”
Currently, Roy and other community organizations use a room, tucked away at the back of the shop, to offer programs, activities and support to young people in the community.
Roy says he can’t wait to move into Cape and Cowl’s new home, located further down Sackville Drive. He’s eager to expand his vision for the shop, “to provide spaces where people feel safe.”
Nora Rose is a regular visitor at Cape and Cowl, taking part in a weekly Dungeons and Dragons program hosted in partnership with Autism Nova Scotia. Rose has been making the trip from Dartmouth to Lower Sackville for about two years to participate in the program.
“It’s fun, something to do, and a way to meet people,” Rose says. “To be in here, it’s basically that you know that whatever you are is going to be respected.”
Caitlyn Temple, program co-ordinator at Autism Nova Scotia, says there are many benefits to the Dungeons and Dragons program, which has been running at Cape and Cowl for about five years.
“Where it seems, to an outside view, it’s just a role-playing game, we see an increase in social interactions,” says Temple. “The social skills [participants] are building, just by interacting with a small group, has been significant.”
Growing community for all
These sorts of partnerships are at the core of the vision Roy and his close friend, the late Leighann Wichman, had for youth in Sackville. The youth drop-in centre, the Leighann Wichman Safe Space, is named after her.
Roy says their vision was to create a place where youth felt comfortable to like sci-fi and fantasy and “to be themselves along whatever gender and sexuality spectrum they fall.”
Cape and Cowl’s new location is closer to the “hub of Sackville,” says Roy, near the public library and The Den — an HRM youth centre — which will mean more opportunities for partnerships.
The new unit will be more physically accessible, including automatic, wider front doors, a flatter parking lot and a fully accessible washroom.
It will have offices that can be used as confidential spaces for free counselling services to youth, in partnership with Nova Scotia Health Authority and counsellors in the area. Currently, these sessions are held in the drop-in room, meaning the space can’t be accessed for other activities while it’s in use.
“It will be bittersweet leaving this location,” Roy says. “But I really feel like we’ve outgrown it and the full vision of what I had in my mind will really get to flourish in the new space.”
For Roy, who identifies as a member of the Rainbow Community, Cape and Cowl is something he wishes he had access to as a youth growing up in the area.
“No one would question why a youth would come to a comic book store,” says Roy. “So in regard to sometimes when youth are not supported at home, or they don’t feel safe to go to a medical setting, this is what I’m here for.”
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