Teens benefit from club involvement

People in Summerland are familiar with the Summerland Asset Development Initiative’s Unity Youth Club.

Ericka Bidwell

Ericka Bidwell

People in Summerland are familiar with the Summerland Asset Development Initiative’s Unity Youth Club.

We know it is a non-profit organization that assists young people and receives funding, in part, from the community.

What we may wonder is, what value does this club bring to the lives of those it serves?

One only has to ask the youths to find an answer.

Antonio Hansen has been going to SADI for six years.

“When I found out about SADI, I was really interested in the idea. It brought new excitement to this town,” he said. “The connection with people here is incredible. It’s like a second family. It’s amazing to come here.”

Ericka Bidwell has always lived in Summerland.

“I started coming to SADI two years ago. Now I work here and they are my sponsor for the Blossom Pageant, so they have really helped me in a lot of aspects of my life,” she explained. “Everyone here is very supportive.”

Nikki Blair has lived here since she started school and joined the club when she was in Grade 6. “SADI is a very welcoming place and they accept anyone who comes here,” she said.

Besides providing students with a place to “hang out”, play games and occasionally have meals together, SADI also gives them the opportunity to go on outings and trips. They may go out to a movie or down to the beach. They often go to Garnett Lake to enjoy a campfire. Recently they went to the hot springs in Nakusp and last summer went on a camping trip to Ucleulet and Tofino.

These young people benefit from belonging to SADI in other more practical ways as well.

“People in the community ask us to help out at events,” said Hansen. “The amount of volunteering I’ve done has helped me with my social skills.”

“The volunteering really gets you involved with the community,” explained Bidwell. “I think that’s a huge asset to have. Employers really like to see that.”

The youths are also involved with fundraising for SADI.

At one fundraiser they are able to wait on tables, serving people their dinners. This experience has helped them to find jobs in the restaurant industry.

“Last week I wrote a grant for SADI,” said Blair. “Before I didn’t know much about grants….but then I actually learned the process and how much work it is!”

SADI itself also offers an opportunity for employment. Bidwell, who was originally hired as a summer student continues to work part-time at the clubhouse doing many of the daily cleaning chores.

Another thing that is special about this club is that it allows students of different ages to interact with each other.

“It never feels like we’re hanging out with kids younger than us because we don’t think of the age difference anymore,” said Blair. “We are all so close.”

Hansen explained that because he had been introduced to older kids at SADI, it helped him to transition from the middle school to high school.

It seems that SADI also helps to keep teens away from crime and from using drugs and alcohol. “I think one of the big issues in small towns is that kids get bored and have nothing to do,” said Bidwell. “Having SADI helps keep the crime rate down because we have such an awesome place to go,” Blair added.

The teens expressed their appreciation for staff member Alyson Lindsay.

“She does so much for us and dedicates a lot of her time,” explained Blair. “It’s so nice to have someone that is so generous to us. We can trust her with everything.”

“She is there any time we need her for anything,” said Bidwell.

It was also mentioned that it is “pretty cool” that the kids attend the annual general meeting and that they can give their feedback to the board members and show them what they have done all year by way of a slideshow presentation.

Although SADI has more than 100 members signed up Hansen said, “It is always nice to have new people. We always welcome them with open arms.”

It is evident from these expressions that the SADI youth club is very beneficial to these young people and an organization well worth supporting.