After moving into their new home in the basement of the Kinship Connection building, the Youth Center has been busy all summer providing programming and activities for youth age 12-18 in Nakusp and surrounding area. On any given week-night this summer, pedestrians walking down Broadway St. would have seen the glow of lights and heard the happy sounds of activity pouring out of the windows of the Kinsman Center as youth gathered to interact and engage with each other in a safe environment.
Leah Greschner, the Youth Center manager and acting program coordinator, successfully applied for a Columbia Basin Treaty Youth Grant prior to the summer and was able to use the money to provide two months of fun and activity. Receiving $14,350 from the CBT, Greschner stocked the Youth Center fridge full of food, planned daily activities and organized out of town adventures to the Skytreck Adventure Park, Atlantis waterslides in Vernon and the Youth Center in Nelson. Two support staff were also hired with the grant money to help facilitate the summer programs and Lliam Chivers stepped up as a youth volunteer to join a pre-existing team of community volunteers who have been dedicated to the center.
“Our goals for the grant were youth and community orientated,” Greschner commented. “We wanted to promote the youth center, enhance sense of community, foster leadership, promote youth employment, promote local business, and engage youth in physical activity that promotes teamwork and interpersonal communication skills.”
The Youth Center operates under the Nakusp Youth and Area Society, which is governed by a board of volunteers. The society was struck from a steering committee to administer the Community Driven Youth Funding from the CBT and strives to work collaboratively with the community to develop the full potential of young people in a safe and inclusive environment.
“To me it is very important that the youth center is an inclusive space where positive communication is encouraged,” Greschner said. “We try and do conflict resolution and to encourage tolerance of diversity and open-mindedness to different kinds of people. The youth center is a safe environment were people don’t have to worry about being bullied and where they can be accepted for who they are.”
Moving forward, the Youth Center plans to continue to offer weekly activities and is looking into branching out their programming. Nakusp and Area Society volunteer board member, Jean-Francois Brodeur is planning to team up with local Ty Klassen on a youth orientated gardening project. Driven by a philosophy of environmental awareness, healthy living and strengthening the community at large, Brodeur and Klassen will seek to partner with the high school in the fall to launch their multifaceted and interdisciplinary project.
“The Youth Society still owns the green door lot located across the road from the high school and is working to erect a new center,” Brodeur explained. “However, until we put the shovel in the ground, we can still embellish the space and use it to grow food. The idea is to show a variety of options and solutions as well as show where food comes from. There is a movement called “Face Your Farmer” and we will do some of that too.”