Youth struggle to access programs

Workshop finds disconnect between young people and community services

Community members discuss youth opportunities at the August 14 workshop.

A youth strategy workshop held in Cranbrook earlier this month has found that young people have trouble accessing programs tailored to them.

The Cranbrook Social Planning Council held a workshop on Tuesday, August 14, attended by 29 members of the community.

A report released by the council this week says the workshop revealed a disconnect between youth and the community services available for them.

“There are opportunities for young people; it is simply lack of access that creates the gap between the lived reality of young people and the number of opportunities available in the community,” wrote Dana Osiowy, chair of the Social Planning Council.

At the three-hour workshop, community members, including youth between the ages of 12 and 19, used maps of Cranbrook to identify community assets like resources and opportunities, entertainment and recreation, places to shop, and “no go” zones.

“We were able to see a connection between ‘no go’ zones and the lack of programming and services for young people in the community,” said Osiowy. “There was also a high coorelation achieved between lack of access to programming we do have, and no coordinated youth organization that worked to increase opportunities.”

Working in four groups, the workshop participants also created “vision trees” of Cranbrook’s ideal future, where the roots are community values, the trunk is people and spaces, and the leaves are specific activities and initiatives.

It was the first of two sessions in the Cranbrook Project, an initiative prompted by a Columbia Basin Trust pledge of $100,000 over four years to help communities set priorities for youth aged between 12 and 19.

The next meeting will be facilitated by Columbia Basin Trust and will be held on September 17 at the Heritage Inn from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Already, the goals of the Cranbrook Project are becoming clear, according to the report.

“The overarching goal of this initiative is substantive policy change at the programming and municipal level so that the youth community is more engaged, empowered and has meaningful input on decisions that impact them and their lives,” wrote Osiowy.

“The focus will be on where we can add to what is already happening and leverage what resources we do have and will have with this grant.

“One of the most important outcomes for this project is to have a more inclusive community for youth so that they can have a feeling of belonging to our community and they will have more assets and more chances to be successful.

“Another critical outcome for this project is that current and future youth programming work together rather than in silos. This will increase access to all of the opportunities available.”

To register for the next planning session, contact Dana Osiowy at 250-489-3111, bigscran@bigbrothersbigsisters.ca or the Cranbrook Social Planning Council’s Facebook page.