Contributed by the Columbia Basin Trust
Columbia Basin Trust is pleased to announce the formation of a Basin Youth Network. This network will help communities increase local activities and opportunities for youth, enabling youth to learn new skills, such as leadership, and engage more with each other and their communities.
“We’ve been offering youth-related programs for over 15 years. Building upon these past successes, we’re excited to be strengthening community efforts to increase support to youth,” said Lisa Kilpatrick, the Columbia Basin Trust’s senior manager for delivery of benefits. “We know youth need a range of local opportunities and resources to be happy and engaged in their communities, and we’re committed to working with communities to achieve this.”
The Trust has allocated $4.65 million over three years – $1.55 million annually – to the network. It will build on and incorporate the Trust’s successful Community Directed Youth Funds program. Since 2011, this program has supported communities’ needs to keeping youth active and engaged.
The Stoke Youth Network in Revelstoke is one of many successful examples. “We are really excited about the new structure,” said Megan Shandro, Revelstoke’s Youth Liaison. “It aligns with what we are already doing; it allows us to identify local priorities and act on them. We were one of the first communities to access the Trust’s community-directed youth funds, and we’ve seen tremendous benefits with bringing together community stakeholders and increased collaboration. I know that others joining the network will see success because of this approach too.”
Many communities have already received Trust support to create community youth networks or groups, while others may now receive support to establish them. These groups will then be able to receive help from the umbrella Basin Youth Network to deliver programs based on community priorities—plus have a mechanism to collaborate with each other. The Trust will lead the network by developing programs, hosting youth-focused events and hiring a regional coordinator.
Collaborating is something Lori McNeill, executive director of the Cranbrook Boys and Girls Club, looks forward to. “Learning from other youth centres, talking about their ideas and trying them out, is so valuable to providing youth with diverse opportunities. I am also excited to team up with community partners in Cranbrook to build stronger programs that better serve the youth community.”
Shannon Isaac, Youth Coordinator at North Kootenay Lake Community Services Society thinks the network is a great idea. “Having a key point of contact in the community who can communicate with and bring local organizations together, incorporate input from the various groups and oversee youth programming has been key for Kaslo and Area D. It’s been incredibly collaborative, and the youth programming has been enhanced because of this. We look forward to building on this as part of the network.”
The network will also support emerging needs, such job readiness, work experience programming, youth leadership, and others as identified.