They decide on a project, then go out and do it!
That’s the success story of four Youth DO Crew groups in southern Alberta communities. After classes, high school students in Coaldale, Coalhurst, Raymond and Taber completed an impressive number of projects through the fall.
Now, said facilitator Kaitlynn Weaver, they’re ready for more.
“We have had great success with a variety of youth-led service projects,” Weaver reported.
DO Crew teens have volunteered for events ranging from an outdoor movie night to a winter carnival. DO Crew members have also guided visitors through a haunted house, taken part in community forums and given out Christmas “care packages.”
Weaver said first steps toward creating the youth leadership and volunteer groups were taken early last summer, with activities getting underway when schools started their fall semester. Weaver noted the program is a collaboration between the Boys and Girls Club in Lethbridge and the locally administered Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) program, backed by a federal government grant.
DO Crew members identify community needs and volunteer opportunities, Weaver added, then contact people in their town who can help their project proceed. That can lead to a planning session with local officials – for some teens, likely the first opportunity to share leadership with adults.
In Coaldale, said Weaver, members have gone a step further. They’re sitting down with town officials monthly to share youth concerns.
Scarcity of part-time job opportunities for Coaldale teens is one of their issues, Weaver said.
At the same time, Weaver added, group members are learning how town administrators and employees work to keep their community operating.
In Coalhurst, Weaver noted, DO Crew members followed up on their film night by joining forces with other community groups putting on the town’s Christmas party. They were also invited to speak about their group’s goals.
Another collaboration saw the Raymond group support a young entrepreneur – a girl with a pedal-powered ice cream business. Weaver said a number of people enjoyed a cool treat, as a result.
Meanwhile in Taber, Weaver said members have undertaken a “physical literacy” project, helping young children learn such basics as batting a ball. They also enjoyed creating spooky costumes and ushering about 150 people through a haunted house at Halloween.
After the Christmas break, Weaver said groups are once again meeting weekly, as they plan further events. In the spring, Weaver added, members of all groups will be invited to a leadership conference in Lethbridge.
And later, as students prepare for their end-of-year exams, Weaver said a first-year evaluation will consider such possibilities as expanding to include additional communities.
For high school students in the four current locations, Weaver said there’s an invitation to get involved. For more information, youth can call or text 403-332-0629.