Building for the future at Youth Centres Thunder Bay
THUNDER BAY – CIVIC – The last year for Youth Centres Thunder Bay (YCTB) has been filled with triumphs, successes and some challenges. The Board of Directors has done a lot of work with regards to development over the previous twelve months. The Board was created by/from a group of passionate volunteers to join in a partnership with the City of Thunder Bay (CTB) and Wasaya Group Incorporate (WGI). The purpose of this partnership is to test-pilot a model of youth centre that could potentially be used in the larger Youth Centres Strategy by the City of Thunder Bay. Each partner in the pilot-project was given a role to see if the model in place would work and to give youth a safe place to go after-school.
CTB has been vital in this process by providing staff for operations in the centre while the Board has continued to develop and seek out funding to keep the youth centre running once the pilot-project is complete. The staff members provided by CTB have done phenomenal work since beginning in March 2012 at the youth centre. Their engagement of youth has kept youth returning to the centre; their innovation and creativity in providing fun and structured activities have assisted the youth in developing skills and a sense of belonging to the community. The staff members have ensured that things run smoothly and continue to run smoothly at the youth centre. CTB has also assisted in operational costs and start-ups that were necessary to bring the youth centre to where it is today.
WGI has contributed funds towards the rental costs of the current youth centre location and the insurance needed to keep the centre operational. Without their support YCTB would not be able to keep the youth centre open initially, nor be able to become a not-for-profit organization. WGI has also offered support and expertise with engaging First Nation youth and creating a partnership with Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School. YCTB truly appreciates and is grateful for the ongoing support from both of its partners.
Arts – Crafts – and Public Private Partnerships
The YCTB Board of Directors was formed in December 2012; the original Board consisted of members of the community with vast experience in providing services for youth and that were committed to volunteering their time to this important project. Since its beginning the Board has developed all of the Board of Director policies for operations, built up our membership, completed developing policies for the youth centres operations, engaged adult volunteers and applied to many different funders for support. Currently the Board has 5 active members and can have up to 9 members as a part of it. The Board has also worked very hard to build partnerships in the community with organizations that can assist in providing services to youth in need. Through these partnerships we have been able to bring in art and cultural programming, cooking and literacy opportunities, and empowerment groups for girls at risk. It is hoped to continue to create partnerships and have more structured programming available based on youth needs.
Working with Youth – Success’s Key
The Board recognizes that having youth input throughout every step of development is vital to the success of the centre and has created a Youth Parallel Board that will work closely with the adult Board. The adult Board will be mentors to the Youth Parallel Board and follow the lead of the youth. This development will teach youth leadership skills, operations of a Board of
Directors, and create innovative ways to better engage youth and ensure the centre is meeting the needs of the youth accessing it.
Since the doors opened in December 2012 there has been 243 new youth that have attended the centre with 1006 repeat visits. Youth attend the centre as it is a safe place to hang-out after school as well for the structured activities that are available. The numbers presented speak to the true success of the centre, the staff, and the Board of Directors.
The next step for Youth Centres Thunder Bay is to become financially independent and continue to operate the youth centre at its current capacity. In order to achieve this goal Youth Centres Thunder Bay will be developing a three year business plan and a five year strategic plan as well. We will continue to apply to various funders to ensure that we can provide the staffing, programming, and resources needed to continue. We will continue to engage the youth and involve them in every step of the process. We will continue to engage community organizations with various expertise and resources in providing services for youth; and we will also continue to work with our partners to ensure the success of this pilot-project.
Although developing the Board from the beginning stages has been difficult and has taken time, we are now in the position to carry forward fully and work towards self sustainability for the 2014/15 year.
President, Youth Centres Thunder Bay