Program battles youth boredom
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013 10:28 am
Professional development days won’t be the same dreary, boring days for youth in Okotoks and High River.
Youth programmers in the two towns are teaming up to host a slew of activities for junior and senior high students from paintball to swimming on Foothills School Division Professional Development (PD) days which occur about once a month.
“This is brainstorming that happened just over Christmas and we’ve been working with it,” said Town of Okotoks youth recreational programmer Helen Sevcik. “It’s just to provide programming for youth in the area so they have activities to do so they can get physically active, try new things and feel like their voices are being heard in the community.”
The program, which doesn’t yet have a name, will include activities in Okotoks such as paintball or taking in a flick at the local theatre. It will also bring youth to activities outside of the town’s boundaries including swimming at the wave pool in Calgary, playing laser tag in Nanton and skiing and snowboarding at Nakiska, said Sevcik.
“We will try to access all our resources in High River, Okotoks and Calgary,” she said. “It’s things that the youth want to do that they don’t necessarily have access to in Okotoks.”
École Okotoks Junior High School Grade 7 student Noah Matsubara usually spends PD days relaxing around the house, but with the recreation centre planning youth-based activities he won’t be bored.
“I would love to go paintballing and go to the wave pool on a PD day,” he said.
Grade 9 student Amber Watson said she often spends PD days hanging out with friends but the idea of going swimming or joining youth her age for a movie is more appealing.
“If it was something I wanted to do I could go do that,” she said. “You can interact with different schools and make friends.”
The Okotoks and High River youth programmers planned a mall crawl in January where a bus would take youth to Calgary’s Chinook Centre in January, but a lack of interest in the activity resulted in the program being cancelled, said Sevcik.
“We started with the Mall Crawl because it was right after Christmas and we figured the kids would have gift cards,” she said.
Next on the list is a ski/snowboard day at Nakiska during the February break, but only four youth signed up so far. Sevcik said they need another 11 from the Okotoks and High River area for the trip to happen.
“We are hoping that with this ski trip in particular it’s popular enough that we can run it again before the winter season is over,” she said.
Despite promoting the trip on the local radio station, newspaper and placing posters in schools and the recreation centre, the response has been minimal.
Sevcik said the plan is to schedule seasonal activities and list them in the community guide, which often gets the best response.
Coming up with youth-based activities has been the easy part, said Sevcik.
“A lot of the places we have identified have really great group rates and options for independent groups to come,” she said. “That hasn’t been an issue as of yet.”
With the school division having typically one to two professional development days a month, Sevcik said the idea is to have one event a month during the school year.
“We are trying to do one a month so we don’t spread our resources too thin,” she said. “We will probably do a bigger trip and then a smaller trip so the cost isn’t much of an issue.”