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   Volume 81 - Issue 20 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: news@passherald.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“I will never give up on my dreams.”
- Kayla Valiquette  
   
   

 

New Girl In TownI am a firm believer that children in every community should have access to after-school youth programs, as such a service greatly benefited me in my teen years and helped shaped me into who I am.
This is why I was so pleased to learn that the children of Crowsnest Pass have access to such a wonderful program as the Boys and Girls Club.
Staff and organizers make a point of nurturing and encouraging the artistic and dramatic inclinations of the children they serve by holding regular drama days, allowing the kids to paint and draw, and even by holding a talent show later this month.
In addition to that, they take part in fun activities and experiments on a regular basis, and take the kids on weekly outdoor nature walks and other outdoor activities like rock climbing or cross country skiing.
All in all, my knowledge of everything the club offers to its kids is relatively limited, but I am impressed with what I have seen thus far.
When I was growing up in Vulcan, the only youth groups which kids could join were church-run, and as I have identified as an agnostic since practically the time I learned to write my own name, the appeal wasn’t exactly overwhelming.
Fortunately, when I was in Grade 8, my best friend’s mother, Laurie Tripp, who was the youth coordinator for the Vulcan FCSS, took it upon herself to start up the “Get-a-Way Youth Centre”, a non-denominational-and-not-religious-in-any-way-for-that-matter youth group.
I started going because there was nothing else to do in Vulcan, and it was a good way to kill a Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon.
But soon it turned into one of the things I most looked forward to during the week, and ultimately one of the most important things in my life.
I started getting involved in organizing events, fundraisers, dances, trips, and any other activities we undertook.
Then when I was in Grade 10, Laurie started encouraging all of us to volunteer outside of youth group, and awarding “Volunteer of the Month” to the person with the most volunteer hours.
 
I spent that summer volunteering at the long-term care centre at the local hospital, and in the ensuing two years volunteered to clean up local parks, organize and run the annual Child and Youth Fair, set up and help run dances and other events, babysit at parenting seminars, and basically anything else that came up.
We also started up a group called the Teen Awareness Group (TAG), which consisted of myself and about six other kids, to educate our peers and ourselves about the dangers of alcohol, drugs and eating disorders.
We held an anti-alcohol tshirt design contest at our school, where kids created warning labels of sorts, and the winning design was printed on 200 black hooded sweaters and given to each of the kids who participated.
I was nominated to be the club’s Events Committee Coordinator all throughout high school, Vice President in Grade 11, and President in Grade 12, all of which I won.
I was awarded Volunteer of the Month three times, as well as the “Leaders of Tomorrow” award by NAME OF WHO GAVE ME THE AWARD.
All of this volunteer experience lent itself to my being able to acquire more than $7,000 in scholarship funding for community involvement when it came time to pursue post secondary schooling.
But having access to the youth centre didn’t only open me up to volunteer opportunities; it also helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
I looked up to Laurie a great deal all throughout high school, and became convinced that Child and Youth Care work was for me.
While Laurie supported this, she was also one of the few people who encouraged me to pursue photojournalism, as it was what she felt I was really good at and meant for.
I can never sufficiently detail all of the ways that Laurie and the other kids at the youth centre affected, influenced and changed my life, but what I can say is that I am forever grateful to all of them.
I hope that the children of this community can recognize the great opportunity they have in the Boys and Girls Club, and that it will have such a positive effect on their lives as well.
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