THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay is continuing to move toward checking off items from the Strategic Plan. One of the items on the strategic plan is to ‘Engage youth and community partners in developing options for youth centres’.
This was tasked to the General Manager-Community & Emergency Services, Manager-Recreation & Culture. There were three years set for this effort, and the report is due in the 4th quarter of 2012.
The City has contracted Youth Centres Canada under the stewardship of Les Voakes to make final recommendations on this effort, and it is looking like there will be action coming faster rather than later.
The need for youth centres in the City of Thunder Bay with a priority toward teenagers has been the focus of several reports over the past number of years.
While there are many set programs for children offered through the Boys and Girls Club, there are no programs offered specifically for teens. That gap has been partly filled by the New Hope Youth Centre and the Regional Multicultural Youth Centre.
There are also new partnerships being formed. Wasaya Group Inc. (WGI) are championing an initiative to build a Student Residence combined Recreation/Activity Youth Centre for Dennis Franklin Cromarty students and one youth centre in Thunder Bay.
WGI’s approach in building partnerships is a key to addressing issues facing the youth from northern communities who come to Thunder Bay to continue their education.
MaryEllen Thomas, the WGI Executive Vice President says, “Keeping the approach youth focused will create pathways to success and increase youth capacity building which make economic sense. For us, we believe in their vision for better quality of life. In pursuing their education, they want to ensure safety and well-being while away from home and they want to feel like part of the community”.
There are needs in the community for programing that is of interest and will be accepted by Aboriginal youth. That is an area which has come to the top of the list after Jordan Wabasse went missing and was later found in the Kaministiquia River.
Many people might think that Aboriginal Affairs at the federal government funds programs for urban aboriginal youth in the cities, but the reality is that no funding for youth centres is offered by the federal government.
This is an area where swift action by the City of Thunder Bay is likely to help make the lives of all residents in the city better.
Investing in youth and having solid programs that young people can participate in will make a real difference in Thunder Bay.
While Westfort Councillor Joe Virdiramo is the Child Advocate for the City of Thunder Bay, perhaps what is needed in addition is a Teen Advocate as well to liason with the groups offering youth programs in the city.
The role of Child Advocate in the City is a huge one, and with a growing teenage population, it is a role that likely should be created. Mayor Hobbs would likely be an amazing person to head up such a position.
Thunder Bay in moving forward to complete the action items on the strategic plan are taking needed steps forward to make our city a better place for young and old alike.