Demand for the city’s Leaders in Training program has outstripped available space.
There are 115 youths registered in the program – the most registrants evet, said Pene Kellett, program coordinator.
The program cap is usually 100, but space was opened to accommodate more participants. Last year there were 93 people registered.
The program teaches youth 13-18 years old a variety of different skills, including communication, team-building, leadership and project creation. Participants gain self-esteem, empowerment and self-confidence. After they learn fundamental skills, they volunteer at a number of city and community events.
“It’s creating individuals who are eager to be active and involved in their community,” said Kellett. “We keep them out of trouble and give them skills for life. They are starting to make their mark on the community. They are the future face of the city.”
Kellett has seen first-hand the difference the program has made on participants.
A parent once came into the office and said her daughter was in the car, but was too shy to come in. Kellett spoke to the youth and convinced her participate in the program. Near the end of the day, the girl had come out of her shell and was laughing, had made a number of friends and showed more self-confidence.
The teens are in a ‘tough spot’ in their lives and are looking for positive outlets, said Kellett.
As news of the program spreads, it means more opportunities are opening up. She’s already been contacted for participants to volunteer at community events being held this fall.
Before entering the program, many participants go through the two-week junior program.
Katie Durvin, junior program leader, said the first week the youth participate in games and activities that teach them skills and then they participate in practical learning activities, such a volunteering at the city’s playground programs.
“It’s giving youth the opportunity to shine,” said Durvin.
Kellett encourages organizations to contact parks, recreation and culture if they have events or programs at which the youth could volunteer. For more information, please call 250-756-5200, go to www.nanaimo.ca or check out the leisure guide.