Penticton and South Okanagan
Teen issues focus of public forum
Sep 30, 2013 / 7:41 pm
A public forum focused on a new project supporting Penticton's teen population was held Monday.
The forum at the Penticton Lakeside Resort, not only included speeches by those behind the effort, but also words of encouragement from Governor General David Johnston, who sat with a group of teens in the front row.
"There are so many places in our society where things are falling through the cracks," he said. "That is why it is important we have these kinds of initiatives."
The Self Esteem Project was created a year ago following the death of Rohan Crompton-Bell, who made significant donations to the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan/Similkameen and the United Way of the Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen.
With the help of her executrix, Jane Drapeau, the vision of dedicating funds to improve youth self esteem in the city was born.
Once the collaboration between the foundation and United Way was in place, they engaged a researcher, Amy Woodruffe, to find out what the gaps were in services for youth.
Speaking at the well-attended forum, Woodruffe said she spoke with many teens, who shared their stories, and interviewed service providers.
Among her findings; a severe lack of resources for youth in the city; almost no free youth activities in the summer; a 90 percent increase in youth related crime in the summer according to the RCMP; many youth at risk and engaged in unsafe sex, drinking alcohol and doing drugs and significant mental health issues.
Many teens in the city also live in poverty, there is no emergency housing or dedicated youth employment resource and no culturally- based, life skills training program for urban aboriginal youths.
The three primary recommendations to tackle the issues are a youth centre, accessible youth activities, such as a drug and alcohol free dance and cultural life skills program, and youth communications strategies, according to Woodruffe.
In the open discussion forum, parents and teens expressed the need for a youth centre and more activities.
In his response, Johnston, a patron of Community Foundations of Canada, stressed it is important to hear the voices of our youth and that we listen. He further discussed his focus on a smart and caring nation, with the pillars of family and children, learning and innovation and volunteerism and philanthrophy.
Now that the project findings have been presented, the next step will be more public collaboration, according to Aaron McRann, the executive director of the foundation.
"We don't want to be prescriptive here, we want to continue the conversation," he said."So this is just the start."
Read more Penticton / S. Okanagan News
City of Penticton
Penticton Discussion Forum
Penticton & Wine Country Chamber
Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen
District of Summerland
Summerland Chamber & Tourism
Town of Oliver
Town of Osoyoos
Town of Keremeos
School District 67 - Okanagan Skaha
School District 53 - Okanagan Similkameen
Okanagan Regional Library
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