Youth Week is the provincial celebration of youth that is held every year during the first week of May. It is a week of fun, interaction, and celebration intended to build a strong connection between young people and their communities and to profile issues, accomplishments, and diversity of youth across the province.
It doesn’t matter where Youth Week is celebrated, the idea is the same: Young people are important and need to be recognized in a constructive manner. Their contributions need to be acknowledged and celebrated. Whether it is recreation, drama, sport, dance, civic engagement, art, volunteerism or leadership, everyday young people are involved in meaningful activities during their discretionary time.
The Boys and Girls Club will be hosting three events that are available to youth in Peachland:
- May 2: Youth will meet by the community center at 3:45 p.m. and cheer on the Rick Hansen Relay at Swim Bay, and then we will hop in the van and have dinner with our friends at the Westside Youth Center. After dinner we will go to the brand new Boys and Girls Club computer lab in Kelowna. We will be back in Peachland around 8:30 p.m.
- May 3: Youth will meet at the community center at 3:45 p.m. and hop in the van to go to the Webber Road Center and take part in some fun games in their gym. We will be back in Peachland around 6:30 p.m.
- May 4: Meet outside the community center at 5 p.m., we will split into teams and have a Race for Youth, it is a combination of the Amazing Race and Minute to Win It. Afterwards we will have some dinner. The event will end at 8 p.m.
As a community how can we celebrate our Youth? The PlayWorks Partnership has come up with eight good practices that are common among Youth Friendly Communities. Although Peachland is proficient in many of these eight areas, the challenge for Youth Week and the Month of May is to help support just one of these best practices:
1) Genuine Caring for Youth: Genuine caring means concern and regard for youth and recognition that youth are important members of the community and, at the same time, community members that need nurturing and support. Community shouldn’t talk about youth as a “problem” or describe their success with youth as a result of a “youth crisis”.
2) Focus on Meaningful Youth Engagement: Communities need to embrace that youth are capable community members, have valuable contributions to make and need opportunities to develop their own leadership abilities. Meaningful youth engagement is not about asking youth to fill out a survey or recruit youth to act as volunteers to save on staffing costs.
3) Research, Planning and Evaluation: With competing interests and demands for limited financial resources, it is important to make a strong case to decision makers (e.g. politicians, boards of directors) that investments in youth really work.
4) Willingness to Take Risks: Communities that are youth friendly are not always successful in every youth initiative. Sometimes, a great ides just flops. The success here lies in the community’s ability to learn, to not give up and to try again.
5) Continuous Learning and Improvement: It doesn’t happen overnight and may better be described as “Communities in Progress”. Constantly learning from their past experiences and trying to find ways to improve the future.
6) Knowledge of Own Community: The sustainability of youth opportunities depends not just on knowing youth but also gaining the support of the broader community. Communities that are successful work to identify supportive allies/partners with a shared interest but they also identify those that do not have a positive regard for youth.
7) Involvement of Supportive Leadership: Youth Friendly Communities have the involvement and support of key decision makers or leaders within the community.
8) Culture of Collaboration: Communities require people, groups, and organizations to come together. Creating opportunities for youth play is not just the responsibility of the Recreation Department and youth development is not just the responsibility of schools and social service agencies. Youth is everyone’s business and communities that are best able to respond to the needs and work with youth do so through collaboration.