When I was interviewed for the Teen Advocate position for the Teen Action Committee, I was asked why I wanted to work with youth. For me, that question has always been a clear and easy one to answer.
Like many, I came from a less than perfect upbringing with challenges and hurdles that caused me to think and to think hard. With those experiences came a greater understanding of my peers and what teens face on a day-to-day basis. It is with that understanding that I found my purpose in life, to work with those who are at-risk and need a sense of purpose, something I wish someone would have offered to me at such a crucial stage in development.
Over the past year I have had the exclusive chance of getting to know and understand the youth in the Creston Valley and surrounding area. Personally, I feel fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work with such a spectacular committee of young adults.
This talented, passionate group makes up the Teen Action Committee (TAC) of Creston; a non-profit teen-based group that was granted $100,000 over four years from CDYF to provide free, safe events and programming as an alternative to the risky activities that are so readily available to all youth in all areas.
Not only do we aim to provide free, safe events and programs to the youth in the Creston Valley, but we also hold community participation and involvement close to our hearts and we are actively pursuing ways to get involved. The Teen Action Committee has been asked to volunteer at many town based events ranging from the Blossom Festival to the first annual Winter Children's Festival. Through these events, our goal is to change the perception of youth in Creston to a positive one, one that will harbour growth between the age gap that is too prevalent to those in the area.
One major focus for myself, as well as the members of TAC, is to attain a sustainable Youth Centre, a place that is all their own where they can host events. It is so important, if not vital, for youth to feel like they belong in their community and are being heard, all while experiencing a new sense of purpose and direction. Youth need to be challenged but in fun, engaging ways that encourage growth. These things play a huge role in self-identification; without a strong sense of self, it is far easier to succumb to peer pressure and risky behaviours which is what we have seen a lot of in the past. It is our responsibility to arm these youth with the skill sets and tools they will need to become strong, independent, capable and contributing members of society. I am lucky enough to be in a role within the community that can implement these changes or at the very least, create a path for our future generations to see the change they so desire. Creston is on the verge of something great and huge and you can believe that the youth are definitely going to be a part of it.
To learn more about the Creston Youth Engagement Strategy (YES) project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.