ACTIVE LIFE: Youths grateful for parks leadership program

NANAIMO – Leaders in Training and Quest programs help young people develop life skills.

While Mackenzie Cooper and Maria and Therese Pirie were apprehensive when their parents signed them up for the Leaders in Training and Quest programs, they’ve since pulled a 180.

The parks and recreation department program offers youths between 13 and 18 years the chance to work with children and gain work experience and the three are now grateful.

Therese, Quest participant, wants to be a social worker and is gaining experience that will aid her in her future endeavours.

“This is pretty good because usually I [feel] awkward but after two years, I kind of feel more comfortable around kids and it really showed me that I actually like being with kids and can handle it,” she said.

Cooper, a Leaders in Training member, has learned problem-solving skills working with the children and rather enjoys it.

“At first I was kind of nervous when I got to my first placement and I was like, ‘I don’t really know what to do,’ but after a while you get used to it,” he said.

The programs have been beneficial to Maria as it helped the Quest member overcome shyness.

“This kind of helped me bring me out of my shell, just to interact with all the kids and to hang out with the kids is really awesome,” she said. “You laugh a lot and have fun with them all the time.”

Leaders in Training represents the first level of the program, while Quest represents the second and according to program leader Alita Dancy, participants must fulfill requirements.

“The LITs and the Quests are asked to complete a passport to leadership, which touches on several different areas of leadership elements, so they’ve got day camp placements, sport, art and preschool placements, they take part in workshops and have social fun nights, where they get together.

“And we have our training component which happens at the beginning of the summer, where the kids get the skill sets to go out into the community with customer service, working with children, learning how to do crafts, games and face paints,” Dancy said.

She said participants are set up and go to volunteer in different areas of the community and there are fall and summer sessions.

“It’s a great opportunity, it helps build communication skills, leadership, you interact with kids from all over the city and some kids from out of town as well,” Dancy said.

For more information, please call 250-756-5200.