A new youth centre officially opened its doors earlier this month and the response has been overwhemingly positive.
“Our hours are from 1pm – 9pm Tuesday through Saturday and all Valley youth are welcome to come,” said social worker Brad Dennis. “There are seven staff members on hand at all times and lots of activities for the youth to take part in.”
During the opening ceremony each child in attendance was presented with a cedar headband, and the centre has been hosting craft nights (creating slime has been very popular!) and a Halloween Family Dance.
The new space is just over 5,000 square feet and was designed with full input from the youth. The first floor includes a computer/study room (no video games allowed), a large upstairs common area, washrooms, a counselling area and an elders room.
Downstairs there is another kitchen, a hair salon, gym, movie and improv/drama room, a carving space and a music room. The basement features all white walls that are available for the youth to learn to paint murals, and there are also plans to build a climbing wall on the outside, as well as fence the perimeter and construct greenhouses for the spring. A brand-new paved basketball court is also available.
“Kids ages 7 – 18 are welcome to come on their own,” explained Terri-Lynn Siwallace, Wellness Executive Assistant. “Younger children are also welcome to come as long as they have a caregiver with them.”
The building cost approximately $700,000 and was funded by the Nuxalk Nation. NAALS made a significant donation of furniture and playground equipment, and the Seventh Day Adventist Church has also contributed some musical instruments. Dennis is keen to build up some outdoor activity supplies as well.
“We’d really like to get a boat to get the kids out onto the land and water,” said Dennis. “We’re also looking at acquiring some paddle boards and canoes.”
The mission statement of the centre, as translated from Nuxalk, literally means “to support the full human experience.” The centre is meant to support the youth in their connection to themselves, their culture, and their community.
“We are really inviting other organizations to get involved,” said Dennis. “This centre is about the youth and their community, so we are hopeful that more organizations and people will continue to step forward and partner with us.”