Youth from around the region participate in Basin Youth Network activities. (Submitted)

Columbia Basin Trust continues Basin Youth Support Network for three years

The trust approved a $5 million budget

Support for youth around the Columbia Basin will continue as Columbia Basin Trust renews the Basin Youth Network for three years with a budget of nearly $5 million.

“This network has had wide-reaching impacts in communities and in the lives of young people in the region,” said Aimee Ambrosone, director of Delivery of Benefits for the Columbia Basin Trust. “This is a great opportunity to build on what’s been achieved so far, and ensure communities have the supports they need to engage with their local youth to advance on their unique needs and priorities.”

Established in fall 2015, the network serves youth in several ways. On the community level, the trust provides funding to 28 community youth networks. These work to increase local activities and opportunities for youth aged 12 to 18, enabling them to learn new skills and engage more with each other and their communities.

On the regional level, the Basin Youth Network brings together young people through regional or basin-wide events like the Leadership Summit, hosted every two years.

It also develops programs that address youth priorities such as leadership development and job readiness, and supports local youth coordinators and those who work with youth with resources like a mental health first aid course. Learn more at ourtrust.org/byn.

All priorities—for the regional network and the community ones—are identified with input from youth. In the first year alone of the regional network, over 6,000 youth provided their voices to identify priorities– this totalled 60 per cent of youth aged 12 to 18 in the basin.

“The youth network is making a difference by giving youth in our community a chance to meet and create their own youth-run events that otherwise wouldn’t be available,” said Cindy Currie, coordinator of the Tobacco Plains Youth Network. “In creating these events and meetings, the youths’ self-esteem and community involvement has increased substantially.”

Sarah Miles, coordinator of the Nelson Youth Action Network, said, “The network has given youth a platform to have their voices heard in meaningful and empowering ways. The network is also making a difference by providing youth programming in the communities of Balfour, Harrop and Procter; these youth can now get to know others that live close by and start to build stronger connections in their immediate communities.”

As coordinator of the Fernie Youth Action Network, Cheri Clarance said, “Youth keep returning to programs or signing up for new events and doing things they may not have tried before—all while creating connections and bonds. Also, we’ve built strong relationships with many local businesses and entrepreneurs who have talents and skills they like to share with the youth in our community.”

In addition to the Basin Youth Network, the trust helps youth build knowledge about financial literacy, entrepreneurship and more through JA British Columbia, offers awards and bursaries to high school and post-secondary students and helps youth get employed through its wage-subsidy programs. Learn more at ourtrust.org/youth.

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