The City of Penticton is investing $1 million across three programs to reduce risks for youth in the community.
The three programs are run by the YMCA of the Southern Interior, Foundry Penticton, the Ooknakane Friendship Centre and the city’s bylaw services.
“An essential part of creating a safe and resilient community is having programs in place that support young people who might be at risk,” said Penticton Mayor Julius Bloomfield. “These projects are an important building block in filling in the cracks that some youth fall through. We need to show support and demonstrate in a practical way that the community cares.”
The funding comes from the federal government’s Building Safer Communities Fund and is being distributed through the City’s Social Development department over the next three years.
The Ooknakane’s Kwu Xast Program aims to provide all youth with opportunities to connect with their cultural heritage through land-based activities such as hunting, fishing and traditional crafts. This program will prioritize Indigenous youth but will be inclusive to youth of all cultures and backgrounds.
The YMCA will be providing an alternative to traditional school suspensions with structured activities and education opportunities, aiming to keep youth engaged and on track to reduce the risk of academic failure.
Both the Foundry and bylaw services programs are aimed to work together to better connect with youth in the community.
The Foundry will train and employ youth to work as peer mentors and crime prevention workers, making them positive role models who can build relationships with at-risk youth to help make positive decisions.
City bylaw will be running a branch of their community safety officer program to reach out to youth across the community directly and indirectly through advocacy and education.
“What makes this project unique is the collaborative and non-competitive approach taken by all the agencies involved,” says Jamie Lloyd-Smith, the city’s social development specialist. “There are lead agencies for the program but partners like the Okanagan Nations, School District 67, Okanagan College, and many others will play a role going forward. They will help refer clients, support program evaluation and provide support to the operators and the youth.
“This is a win-win for youth at-risk and for the community.”
The start dates for the programs have not been solidified yet and will be announced at a later date.
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