The Summit Youth Centre’s annual general meeting revealed a strong desire to expand programs and services for Columbia Valley families in the future.
The annual general meeting on Monday, November 9th held at the Summit Youth Centre featured a comprehensive report about its growth presented by program co-ordinator Kelsey Prichard.
“Over the past year, the youth centre has seen tremendous growth,” she explained. “We continue to offer youth of the Columbia Valley a safe, supervised environment where they can hang out with friends, connect with youth workers and have fun.”
She added the drop-in centre is now open six days a week, for a total of 27 hours weekly, after teens from the area had made a request to keep the doors open more regularly.
“Development in this area is a point of pride for our centre,” said Prichard. “The Canadian Department of Justice identifies after-school hours as being the time when the highest rate of crime, violence and drug use by youth occurs. Our centre strives to engage youth and provide them alternatives to these risk-taking behaviours. By opening (the doors) immediately after school, we are able to provide activities and programs as an intervention to these behaviours.”
In fact, there were a total of 2,212 visits to the drop-in centre this fiscal year between July 1st, 2014 and June 30th, 2015.
“By far, it’s been the best year yet,” added Prichard.
She believes an important factor that keeps youth involved with the centre has been how the administrative staff and outreach workers engage them in the decision-making process. As a result, programming being offered to the community has expanded.
“We have continued to offer our Cooking Program with some new aspects and expansion,” said Prichard. “In addition, we currently offer a Graphic Design and Multimedia Training Program, Open Gym Time, Youth Focused Leadership, Employment Readiness Program, Skills for Life, My Agenda Program (MAP) and the Challenges Program.”
While all of the program changes have been positively received by participating youth and their families, Prichard noted the popularity of the Graphic Design and Multimedia Training Program has exceeded all of her expectations. There are many children interested in taking the course as it offers them an opportunity to learn how to use Adobe Photoshop, create 3-D models and build virtual realities in the Oculus Rift game.
“We haven’t offered anything like this before,” she explained.
Although some students take graphics at the high school, Prichard has found the after-school option beneficial for students with scheduling conflicts.
The Graphic Design and Multimedia Training Program runs between four and six weeks, depending on each group’s level. Three students can work through the program at a time — the intake to serve everyone remains ongoing and free.
In addition, the Challenges Program has become quite popular because it helps teens develop problem-solving and communication skills while helping them gain leadership skills.
It runs three times weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and the intake will be casual and ongoing.
Prichard keeps track of how many days in the program each participant has completed.
“Youth who complete our Challenges Program can move onto a leadership role within the program, which means teaching it to other youth or running the program,” she said. “It gives them greater employment opportunities over the summer. They could be a camp counsellor and Blue Lake is recognizing our program. If (teens) take the program through us, they could have a higher chance of getting employed with Blue Lake in particular, (and) other camps as well.”
For more information about programming, call Prichard at 250-342-3033.
Services for youth expand
The growing demand for referral services to keep teens healthy, active and safe has encouraged the Summit Youth Centre to expand its reach.
On top of the Summit Youth Centre providing referral services for youth in terms of mental health, sexual health, food bank, addictions and witnessing abuse, Prichard is taking the next step.
She, along with the Summit Youth Centre team, will be offering emotional support by escorting teens to their appointments.
“This year, we have stepped up our level of support for youth by also offering to accompany them to any appointment or service that they may wish to access,” explained Prichard. “If a youth wants one of our youth workers to accompany them to the Options for Sexual Health clinic, for example, we will support them in their request.”
For updates on social media, visit the Summit Youth Centre page on Facebook.