Local youth projects reach critical mass

Two simultaneous initiatives increase opportunities for young people in Cranbrook.

Two youth projects that are running simultaneously in Cranbrook are building momentum, thanks to funding from Columbia Basin Trust.

The Cranbrook Project is now looking for a youth liaison to coordinate youth events in the community, the culmination of months of planning for the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) 2012 Community Directed Youth Funds, $25,000 for four years for a total of $100,000.

Meanwhile, Cranbrook has been selected as one of three pilot communities for the CBT Youth Engagement Strategy Funding of $15,000.

Led by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cranbrook, this strategy will help Cranbrook organizations learn how to tailor their programs to engage youth.

“We are at the point where we are so much further ahead than we were two years ago. We are starting to put check marks beside things that are important to become a youth-friendly community,” said Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski.

The Cranbrook Project began a year ago when the newly formed Cranbrook Social Planning Council put together an application for the Community Directed Youth Funds.

The process included a series of workshops for youth and community stakeholders.

Through those meetings, it became clear that while there are lots of activities for youth in Cranbrook, young people don’t know about them, can’t afford them or can’t get to them.

The Cranbrook Project determined that the best use for CBT’s $100,000 funding is to hire a youth liaison who will coordinate communications for youth events, and work with the youth community to create six activities for youth.

That position is now open for applications until May 1 through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The youth liaison will be overseen by the Cranbrook Project Advisory Committee, made up of representatives of Cranbrook Public Library, Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy, United Way of Cranbrook and Kimberley, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Canadian Mental Health Association – Kootenays.

Dana Osiowy, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, said the role is suited to someone with “a combination of life and post-secondary experience that makes you ideal for working with youth,” she said, “someone really passionate about youth and someone who is good at talking to youth.”

A detailed job description can be found at www.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/cranbrook.

Meanwhile, Cranbrook has been approved as a pilot community to receive CBT’s Youth Engagement Strategy Funding.

This process will create a framework for how the city, non-profits and service clubs can get youth involved in a meaningful way.

The process will include stakeholder consultation with “adults”, and a conference for youth.

Osiowy is taking the lead on hiring for The Cranbrook Project, and organizing the Youth Engagement Strategy.

Mayor Stetski said Osiowy has been key to both projects moving ahead.

“None of this would have happened without Dana taking on a leadership role,” he said. “Throughout all of this Dana has been the leader who is willing to put in the grunt work.”

Ultimately, Stetski hopes Cranbrook will one day be deemed a youth-friendly community.

“I would like youth who grow up here and leave Cranbrook to remember growing up here in such a positive way that they want to come back,” he said.

“I am excited about the future for youth in Cranbrook.”