The Canadian government defines youth as someone between the ages of 15 and 30, so it is fitting that the person hired as Revelstoke’s youth liaison is still only 28-years-old.
“I have lots of experience working with youth,” said Karlene Loudon. “I think Revelstoke is a pretty spectacular community and it being small, it has a lot of opportunity for youth engagement and for youth to be a big part of designing their own future here and what they want the community to look like.”
Loudon has been hired to implement Revelstoke’s Youth Action Plan and take on the not-so-easy task of working with youth in all sorts of matters ranging from civic engagement to entertainment to employment. Fortunately for her, her job description narrows the age range down to 12-19.
The action plan was put together by Mike Brown and Megan Shandro, in conjunction with Revelstoke’s Youth Initiative Committee (YIC). The youth liaison position was one of the recommendations to come from the plan and funding was obtained from the Columbia Basin Trust to pay for the position.
Loudon said one of her first goals will be to establish a hub for youth in Revelstoke where they can get information about different opportunities available.
“I would say that is pretty primary because it’s not about re-inventing the wheel, it’s about utilizing what we have as a community and using youth involvements and opinions to better it.”
Opportunities was a word that came up frequently during our conversation – spreading awareness of and expanding existing ones and creating new ones. She brought up examples like creating a youth category of the recent Revelstoke photo showdown, or a youth film fest, bike rides and other activities.
“We’re just formulating ideas right now of what events and what programming we’re going to get up and running and I’m very open with people contacting me with their ideas,” she said.
A part of her job will be to bring in funding for different projects and she said one that was in the works was to hire someone on contract to work on employment-related issues.
Loudon grew up in White Rock and attended Thompson Rivers University where she graduated with a degree in adventure tourism and entrepreneurship. She arrived in Revelstoke three years ago to work for Selkirk-Tangiers Heliskiing and for the many outdoor opportunities. She also works for an environmental consulting company and does contract work at Okanagan College.
“As a youth – and I consider myself still a youth, I’m just in a different phase of it – I was very engaged in competitive sports, art, sales of arts, and adventure recreation as well,” she said. “I feel very fortunate that I had those opportunities and know that not everybody does.”
When asked what she felt was the biggest advantage Revelstoke possessed when it came to supporting youth, she said it was the strong sense of belonging youth felt for the community – 87 per cent according to the survey conducted during work on the YAP.
“That’s huge. People are proud to be here and proud of their community. People want to stay here and want to be involved and engaged. I think that’s the biggest strength this community has. It’s just pulling it all together and making it happen.”
Karlene Loudon can be contacted at email@example.com.