By Dorothy Isted
Special to The Pioneer
It is likely a surprise to some that the Summit Youth Centre has operated in the valley for 21 years. Another interesting aspect of the centre is the high quality of staff employed there. Summit seeks to be a safe place where teens aged 12 to 18 can come six days a week, either to just hang out or to learn something beneficial. The centres goal is for the youth of the Columbia Valley to get actively engaged in their own future, by supporting, inspiring and empowering them to realize and work toward this.
Summit is open six days a week and closed Sundays. From Monday to Thursday, the centres hours are 4 to 8 p.m. On Fridays, its open 4 to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays, 6 to 11 p.m. Program co-ordinator Kelsey Prichard, a lifelong valley resident, is employed full-time while five other staff are all part-time.Combined, they bring a total of 55 years of experience to Summit with backgrounds dealing with everything from violence and suicide prevention, youth engagement and first aid to camp facilitation, counselling, addictions services and more. When a crisis does come up in the life of a teen, staff refer them to other community professionals. Parents can be assured their kids are in good hands while at the centre.
On Tuesdays, staff take a head count. Then off to the grocery store they all go with grandmother Joyce Rhodda, who has 15 years experience working with families and youth, and runs Summits cooking program. She teaches them how to shop on a budget and how to cook easy, healthy meals so that no one starves in a house full of food, as she puts it.
When the kids were asked to express what the youth centre means to them, they said it was a space where they feel important and safe, theres no bullying, its inclusive to everyone, and its a space to make new friends and be happy.
Another activity the youth enjoy is the graphics course being run on Thursdays from 4 to 6 p.m. Father of three, Daniel Lewis, comes with a degree in computer graphics and has worked in advertising, graphic design and computer technology. He has five years of experience working with children and youth in Vancouver kids programs. Stephanie Calvert, Amanda Dietrich, Shonna Murphy are the other three youth workers.
Weekends feature things like foosball and pool tournaments, movies and popcorn, and karaoke and games. In February, courses on Employment Readiness and Skills for Life are being offered on Mondays (pre-registration is required).
Ms. Prichard said theyd like to have more interaction with parents and other community members, and are looking into ways they can perhaps get feedback in an online forum. For the time being, parents are welcome to contact them by email, Facebook (The Summit Youth Centre of Invermere BC is the name of the centres page), calling 250-342-3033 or by stopping in at the centre.
There is also opportunity for people to join the board of directors or serve on sub-committees (the commitment would be five to ten hours per month). Ms. Prichard said parents or simply interested community members are welcome.
Join the centres Facebook Group Summit Youth Centre Events and Updates to stay in the loop.