By David F. Rooney
With several pages of objectives, the newly completed Youth Action Plan has a lot to offer those members of the community who are keen to see a coherent strategy that addresses youth concerns.
The 62-page plan is the product of months of work by Michael Brown and Megan Shandro at Okanagan College and the many young people who participated in their discussions and focus groups.
Among its objectives are:
- Provide youth with opportunities to explore potential career paths and post-secondary education options;
- Provide local training and advanced education opportunities/support;
- Provide public spaces that can be used for studying;
- Support job creation projects, (including youth entrepreneurship) that provide youth with opportunities to develop skills and earn a reasonable living wage;
- Encourage businesses to hire youth;
- Improve employment accessibility for youth who face barriers (including those with disabilities, transportation and childcare issues);
- Provide experiential learning opportunities for youth to learn and develop skills outside of the classroom;
- Creation of low cost, community-based programs/recreation and entertainment options that are accessible to all youth;
- Identify, enhance and create community spaces that are youth friendly;
- Utilizing geographic location and landscape to its full potential; and
- Empower youth to make healthy choices and are aware of services that are available in the community.
There are more, of course, and the whole point is to create a local social environment that values and welcomes the positive contributions of young people.
And young people, given the opportunity, can and do make meaningful contributions to local life. Having said that, though, the authors of the plan recognize that a gulf yawns between the generations. This may be due, in part, to the breakdown of the traditional nuclear family. There are also young people in our community who are deemed unemployable for reasons ranging from mental illness to lack of education or job-related skills. It’s easy to maginalize these people but we do so at a cost.
“As a community, Revelstoke is well positioned to develop a youth culture that protects against these risk factors. Community planning at the grassroots level is solidly entrenched and excellent collaboration and information sharing between service providers, community organizations and municipal government is the operational norm. It is certainly not our role or intention to question the nuclear family model in our community, be we do believe that there is social space for a greater community role in celebrating and supporting our youth.”
The plan recommends helping young people experience the mastery in their lives that will help them “develop healthy self-esteem and self-confidence.”
“Humans have an innate desire to become competent and solve problems, however, if defeats become the primary outcome of early attempts at mastery, the will to competence can be overcome,” the plan says.
It says “innovative collaborative projects better employ and socially engage young people and notes that “in rural areas where secure employment and living wages are not necessarily ever-present, fostering an entrepreneurial culture among the public and private sectors and youth can be of great benefit.”