Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones stated in his 2011 health report:
“Generally speaking, Canadian youth and young adults are healthy and highly resilient, and most are successfully making the transition to adulthood, but not everyone is flourishing. Those who are not doing well are disproportionately represented by youth from low income families, youth who live in remote communities, sexual and gender minority youth and aboriginal youth.”
Billy is not his real name. This story is very real. Billy’s dad is an invalid, his mother is on a low level income. She must support her husband and seven children. Billy is eleven years old, has no school friends, bullying took care of that. To Billy, the L.E.E.S./Spark Youth Drop-in Centre is a major part of his life. Billy is well known by the local R.C.M.P. because he steals. He has stolen from the Spark Youth Centre, the place he loves and where he finds hope.
Stealing is a punishable offence. But Billy does not need punishment – he needs forgiveness. Youth Centre Manager, Bev Middlebrook, believes and practises forgiveness. Billy has not only said he is sorry but is working hard at correcting his mistakes. Recently, his school counsellor advised that Billy got top marks for writing a report on what means the most to him. He wrote about the Spark Youth Drop-in Centre, which is his haven and avenue of hope in our community.
Billy’s actions support his written report. He is first to come through the doors every Wednesday, where Bev Middlebrook puts him to work stacking wood for their stove and cleaning the building, giving him a sense of importance and ownership.
And this Christmas, thanks to Kimberley United’s $200 donation, he is helping Bev with the job of selecting the best 2011 Christmas present for his fellow youth to enjoy. Last year the Spark Youth Centre used our $200 gift to purchase a WII which was the biggest hit at the centre.
On November 9th I attended an all day workshop at the L.E.E.S./Spark Youth Drop-in Centre, which was facilitated by Youth Centres Canada (Government Of Canada). It was well attended by interested people from Cranbrook, Creston, Castlegar and Ottawa. They all envied our youth centre building which is the longest operating youth centre in British Columbia.
My written report to your Outreach Committee outlined the many challenges and opportunities facing the Spark Youth Drop-in Centre.
Thanks to the Legion’s cash donation of $5,000, Bev Middlebrook is currently looking to hire an additional person which will allow the centre to be open for a second afternoon during the week. It is hoped that some of the $100,000 from the Columbia Basin Trust to be used for Kimberley youth during the next four years may be directed to the Youth Centre. That will be a community decision.
Thanks to your support of the Outreach Committee we are able to offer greatly appreciated and needed support to the Billy’s of Kimberley through our partnership with the L.E.E.S./Spark Youth Drop-in Centre. The hope of the future rests with all our children having the opportunity of successfully making the transition to adulthood.