By Steve Hubrecht

Pioneer Staff

The Invermere Summit Youth Centre is sending a delegation of valley teenagers to a major conference in Ottawa next month.

Summit Youth Centre program co-ordinator Kelsey Pritchard, board chair Sherry Doerr and three of the centres teens are heading to the Youth Centres Conference Canada in March.

Its a coming together of young minds in the country discussing ways and means of engaging young people across the country and sharing ideas on how to overcome the stumbling blocks that arise along the way, said Mrs. Doerr. This is for the youth, about the youth, with a few adults along to be supportive.

The conference runs from March 26th to March 29th and will include a number of workshops for the local teens to attend on topics ranging from social media, drugs and alcohol, nutrition, mental health for youth, leadership, and cyberbullying to neuroscience and the youth brain, conflict management, cross-cultural issues, and family dynamics.

For the local Invermere teens going, it will be their first time on a plane and their first time east of Calgary.

Its a really huge experience for them, said Mrs. Doerr, adding that the group will go to Ottawa for a full day before the conference to visit the parliament buildings and take in other sights. There is an educational aspect to the trip as well as the conference.

The Summit Youth Centre has sent delegates to the conference in the past, but not for several years, and this years trip follows on the growing popularity of the centre among the valleys teens.

It has been growing and growing. Right now the centre is being used to capacity, said Mrs. Doerr, adding that it saw 300 visits in January and recently extended its hours to open earlier and to operate six days a week instead of five, after requests to do so from local teens.

We have kids waiting at the door when we open each day, she said.

The centre is running several fundraising campaigns to help get enough money (about $600 per youth) for the conference trip, including selling Little Caesars pizza kits (until February 20th) and a gift card program. To find out the details or make a cash or cheque donation contact Ms. Pritchard at 250-342-3003 or summit.centre@gmail.com. Alternately a direct donation can be made on the CanadaHelps website at www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/help-us-send-youth-to-the-youth-centres-canada-com.

To learn more about the Summit Youth Centre check out www.invermeresummityouthcentre.org.