Teenfest expo gets youths connected

Teens can test out a half-pipe, try paintball activities and snap pictures in a photo booth during the city's first-ever Teenfest.

A new teen expo is taking over Maffeo Sutton Park.

The downtown waterfront will sport zombie paintball, DJ turntables, a half-pipe and photo booth Sept. 13 during the city’s first-ever Teenfest.

The free one-day event has been offered in Victoria, Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Now organizers want to bring the interactive business and resource showcase to young people in the Harbour City.

According to co-founder Ali Berman, the event is all about empowerment and education, as well as connecting parents and teens aged 12 to 18 to community resources. She and her husband came up with the idea after realizing weren’t any expos or events for teens.

“We went with it,” said Berman, who has seen the expo grow. “To our absolute pleasure it’s turning into something amazing and we’d love one day to have a Teenfest all over Canada.

“We know there’s grad fairs and career expos, but there’s nothing like what we are doing where we bring absolutely everything together under one roof.”

At the Nanaimo event, teenagers will have the chance to show their star power at a talent show where the winner will get a $250 Visa gift card. Organizers are still accepting entries to the contest. There will be interactive and educational exhibitors like DriveWise with its texting and driving simulator or Coast Capital Savings, which will open up a photo booth and teach teens financial savvy.

Teens will also be able to check out workshops and information booths on everything from body image to study options and meet S.S. Segran, Amazon.com’s No. 1 bestselling author of Aegis Rising.

“Teenfest is an incredibly empowering event,” Berman said “We all know how tough the teen years can be. We want teens to find mentors, we want them to find businesses, we want them to find careers and in saying that I guess the whole premise behind Teenfest is let’s make our teens more knowledgable.”

The family-friendly event runs from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 13. Young people can pick up entry forms before the expo to win a $500 shopping spree at Woodgrove Shopping Centre by visiting the mall’s guest services, or locations like Oceans Edge Orthodontics, Coast Capital Savings and Nanaimo Youth Services Association. For more information, please visit www.teenfest.ca.