When it comes to inspiring, empowering and motivating youth, the Kerrisdale Community Centre Society (KCCS) has come a long way.
Launched in 2013, the KCCS Youth Committee began exploring ways to encourage 14-19-year-olds to become more involved in the community. At the time, youth could volunteer at centre-organized events and connect with peers in the Youth Games Room and pool.
Revitalized in 2015 and fine-tuned since, the committee today oversees a wide range of events, activities and programs that foster leadership skills, new knowledge and community volunteerism among youth.
“One of my motivations in the Youth Committee is to grow the leaders,” says former committee chair and current board member Oscar Bisnar (right in photo above). “To get them to be critical thinkers, to give them leadership skills, like how to manage groups, how to become adults and future leaders in Kerrisdale.”
One way the committee is achieving that is through the Youth Leaders program, which helps teens not only gain experience in public speaking, interviewing and resume writing, but also in organizing community events that can range from sports day tournaments and craft-and-movie nights to Science Buddies events and an Arbutus Greenway cleanup (see photos below).
The cleanup itself was a collaboration with the Youth Committee’s Kerrisdale Girls Group, which has since merged with the Kerrisdale Boys Group to become the fun, self-esteem-building Kerrisdale Pre-teen Group (think scavenger hunts, dodgeball games and mini field trips).
For a testament to the success of the Youth Committee, look no further than chair Joshua Yoon (left in top photo). Joining the Youth Leaders program in 2015 while in high school, he became a committee community member in 2018 before being elected as a KCCS board member and chair in 2020.
“The advice I’d give to any interested youth is that there are so many opportunities at the centre to expand their experiences, whether it’s technology workshops [see below] or the Youth Leaders program,” says Yoon, adding that the annual Careers Night and interacting with different generations through the years have been both rewarding and insightful.
Particularly popular are the Youth Committee’s free Technology Workshops for Seniors, where tech-savvy teens pair up with seniors (one to one) to share their knowledge about a particular device or platform – seniors can register via our spring brochure (page 33). Partnering with the KCCS Seniors Council to offer more intergenerational programs is in the works. As Bisnar notes, this is uncharted territory. “No other community centres are doing this . . . we’re breaking ground.”
The Youth Committee is also making changes to the well-used Youth Games Room. A new foosball table (in top photo) recently arrived, soon to be followed by new couches and local artwork on the wall.
If you or anyone you know is interested in joining the Youth Leaders Program (Grs. 8-12), please visit the centre’s front desk or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to volunteer as a community member on the Youth Committee, please visit the front desk or email email@example.com.