Concerns about Summerland’s youth once again took the forefront during a recent community forum.
The event, on Oct. 25 at Centre Stage Theatre, was presented by the Summerland Asset Development Initiative and examined ways of strengthening bridges between youth and the community.
Around 100 people were present, including a significant number of middle school and high school students.
Keith Pattinson, a youth worker from Delta, was the keynote speaker at the forum. Pattinson also spoke on the needs of youth 13 years ago before the Summerland Asset Development Initiative was formed.
He said efforts to help youth do not require significant money.
“It’s got nothing to do with dollars; it has everything to do with you and me,” he said. “All of our kids are at risk and we have to treat them accordingly.”
Much of the forum involved brainstorming ways to assist youth.
Connie Denesiuk, one of the organizers of the event, said some positive changes came out of the discussions in the late 1990s, but improvements are still possible.
“We always need to be looking at what could be better,” she said.
She added that many of the suggestions offered are simple and practical. Some involved getting together with youths through shared interests and activities.
Denesiuk said she would like to see a volunteer bank set up, to allow people to work with their strengths and interests. “We don’t want to have someone volunteering for something they’re not interested in,” she said. “There are lots of opportunities for people to pursue their interests in their volunteer hours.”
Many of the suggestions offered included getting to know youths personally, taking an interest in them, listening without judgement and taking the time to speak with them.
Other suggestions included getting involved in initiatives such as the school reading programs, the breakfast programs at Giant’s Head School and Summerland Middle School, church programs and the various programs and activities through the Summerland Asset Development Initiative.