Proposed Youth Engagement Centre looking for votes, funding through Aviva Community Fund
SUMMERSIDE — The Boys and Girls Club of Summerside wants your vote.
© Nancy MacPhee/Journal Pioneer
The Boys and Girls Club of Summerside’s youth program co-ordinator Angie Arsenault, and social media administrator and program group leader Chelsea Moulins stand in front of the future home of the club’s youth engagement centre.
The club is vying for $150,000 in funding through the Aviva Community Fund, that it will use to provide programming at its future youth engagement centre.
The centre, which begins construction next year, will be a place for youth aged 12 to 18 to hang out, take part in programs. Those programs will be aimed at keeping youth out of trouble and addressing various issues, from addictions, problems at home or at school to learning how to write resumes, cook and even homework.
It’s a facility, says Adam Binkley, the club’s executive director, that’s long overdue.
“The Boys and Girls Club of Canada is putting a focus and emphasis on youth aged 13 and over. Our boys and girls club has been concentrating on ages four to 12 for many years and our programs are doing great,” said Binkley. “We believe there is a strong need for structured programming in the youth engagement centre, with a big focus on substance abuse, alcoholism, prescription pills programming to reduce the amount of incidences that are occurring.”
He added, “We will be providing a definite service that is needed within the city in regards to the issues that are facing youth everyday.”
Last year, the Boys and Girls Club of Summerside received a combined $100,000 from Killam Properties and APM, money it initially planned to use for an expansion of the current facility located on Notre Dame Street.
But, said Binkley, with an apparent need for programming and a place for youth aged 12 and older to go, the decision was made to use that money, along with funds from the club’s hugely successful Gold Rush 50/50 draw, to purchase a home and property across the street for the new centre.
The hope is, if the club is successful in obtaining the $150,000 through the Aviva Community Fund competition, to offer things such a survival centre where teens can learn life skills that they may not necessarily be able to learn at home.
“It is for at-risk youth, but that kind of comes with a stigma, that title. We’re trying to eradicate the stigma,” said Arsenault.
Binkley said, “All youth are at risk, one way or another, so we don’t want to stereotype anyone. Your paper is a prime example. Every time you open it up there is an incident or break-in or a car theft and it is all a ripple effect.”
He added, “We proved to the City of Summerside what we can do for aged four to 12. With this, it’s free. It doesn’t cost them anything. Yes, it takes a bit of time (to vote) but it gives us the financial resources to start engaging youth 12 and over and reducing what we see in the Journal Pioneer each and every day.”
Voting for those competing for Aviva Community Fund money opened late September and ends Oct. 15. The club hopes its Youth Engagement Centre project, which falls under the Youth At Risk category, garners at least 2,500 votes, ensuring that the project makes it to the semi-final round.
“We are hoping to build up the resiliency so that they make the right decisions,” said Arsenault. “If they feel like they belong somewhere and they are accountable at a club like this it makes a big difference.”
The centre, once operational, will not only engage the community’s youth, but also offer programming for families to connect and learn to deal and cope with issues facing youth of today.
Life skills training and coaching will be offered and the hope is to also offer a computer resource area, a place to shower and do laundry, and even hot meals.
Win or lose, the youth engagement centre will soon be a reality, said Binkley, adding there are partnerships being explored, none of which have yet been confirmed, to cover the $90,000 cost to renovate, expand and furnish the centre.
“We’re hoping to see the construction and the expansion done this year. We would move some of our youth programs that we have existing here over there as soon as the expansion is complete,” said Binkley. “It’s not that we will be just putting a Band-Aid on the situation for an hour and a half or two hours, we’re going to be providing education, knowledge and support to reduce it from happening.”
And with the current facility “bursting at the seams,” with more than 200 children in the after-school program and a waiting list exceeding that number, the planned $600,000 to $800,000 expansion to the club is still moving forward.
To vote, visit www.avivacommunityfund.org, go under the Youth At Risk category and click on the club’s Youth Engagement Centre submission and click vote now. The submission number is ACF16945.
You can login via the Aviva Community Fund on Facebook, the Boys and Girls Club’s Facebook page or visit www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf16945.