The annual Youth Talent Show closed out Youth Week in Maple Ridge. (Contributed)

On Community: Celebrating our youth

Youth Week is the largest annual international celebration of young people and this year’s events in Maple Ridge have been an overwhelming success.

The City of Maple Ridge showed its appreciation for youth during Youth Week, May 1 to 7, by organizing and coordinating many youth-led activities and events. Each day during the Youth Week celebrations, youth participated in various activities with the annual Youth Talent Show closing out the week. Over 250 people from newborns to grandparents, including four members of city council, watched in awe as our local youth took the stage.

“Young people are an integral part of any community and we’re very fortunate that we continue to have some great supporters and sponsors in our community,” said Clint Gamache, youth programmer.

All activities were held for local youth aged nine to 18. Most programs offered during the week were free and any fundraising proceeds raised went back into the Youth Council, on which youth decide how best to spend funds and support other young people in the community.

Youth Week activities included a Summer Plan Slam, in which youth were engaged with planning summer out trips, hikes and camping trips for the summer. There was also a youth pool ping-pong and foose-ball tournament night, and the Whomp Overnight Sleepover, which promotes a natural high theme with a focus on healthy activities.

The City of Maple Ridge has already received significant positive feedback from both the community and the youth themselves, a reminder that we don’t need to wait for this one week a year to celebrate youth, it should be a celebration every day.

The City of Maple Ridge provides many youth-focused programs and activities. The Mentorship Leadership Development Training Program prepares youth to become mentors at Thomas Haney Youth Action Park. Through training, youth gain certifications and build their skills as leaders.

After a successful evaluation, youth earn an honorarium for their time spent mentoring in the action park. The Greg Moore Youth Council is a leadership group is made up of youth aged 12-18 whose goal is to positively promote youth in our community. With a focus on leadership development, youth will design workshops, plan special events and address social issues facing youth today. New members are always welcome.

The Youth Wellness Centre is a one stop shop for youth and their families to access services and information in a non-judgmental and informative environment. Services include one-on-one counselling, substance use counselling, primary care and a youth navigator, who links clients with resources.

Youth Wellness Centre programs and services are free! Drop In hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday nights 4-6 p.m. at the Greg Moore Youth Centre.

The recently endorsed Youth Strategy was developed by City of Maple Ridge staff, volunteers, service providers, caregivers, parents, and youth who contributed their time, energy, and ideas to create the City of Maple Ridge’s first ever Youth Strategy. The strategy aims to support, engage, and empower our youth and emerging adults and provides a number of recommendations organized under four key themes: inclusive community spaces and activities; community engagement; wellness and mental health; and transitioning to adulthood.

A working group has been formed to develop an implementation plan for the recommendations.

This is just a sampling of the many youth focused services available in our community. Supporting youth is a priority of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows-Katzie Community Network.

• Looking for more information or want to get involved? Contact us at info@resourceyourcommunity.com or 778-242-3359.

Submitted by Sunny Schiller, coordinator Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows-Katzie Community Network.

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