For several years, the District of Sparwood has been working toward starting a youth oriented program. Recently, the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) had formed the Basin Youth Network for adolescents aged 12-18. The trust aims to keep youth active and engaged, which enables communities to create community based youth networks and groups.
“We attempted to organize a youth group several years ago but did not have the staff nor financial resources to keep it going and unfortunately had to let it go,” said Sparwood’s Director of Community and Facility Services, Duane Lawrence. “Over the past three years we have been working with the CBT to access youth funding although the programs offered by the CBT at the time did not quite meet the needs of the Elk Valley.”
The CBT has allocated $4.65 million over three years to the Basin-wide youth network. The funding has re-energized Sparwood’s plans for a youth oriented program.
“This changed significantly with the latest CBT announcement of a new youth program and funding model,” said Lawrence. “CBT reached out to Sparwood in March inviting us to apply to this new program which Sparwood is now in the process of doing. This new program is exactly what we were hoping for and we are very excited to be a part of this new opportunity for youth in Sparwood.”
Out of the annual $1.55 million, Sparwood has the opportunity to access up to $55,000 per year for three years as long as they meet funding requirements that are outlined by the CBT.
When asked about what kind of programs or plans Sparwood has for the grant Lawrence said that “it’s still a little premature for us to say what type of events or activities will result from accessing this program.” He went on to speak about the need for youth input to make a thriving program.
“This is a youth network that, to be successful, must have direct input from youth. What we hope to see is youth in Sparwood determining what they would like to see happen in Sparwood for their peers and help to make it happen,” Lawrence said. “All my experience working with youth tells me that for a program aimed at teens to be successful is that it must come from local youth first.”
The CBT has invited Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford to participate in the program. Sparwood will be hosting an information session on May 18 at the Leisure Centre. Lawrence encourages everyone to come to the session that is tentatively set for 7 p.m. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.