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Hundreds of activity bags created for Innisfail, area youth

Youth Positive Action Coalition implements information and activity project to empower students

INNISFAIL – The Innisfail Library/Learning Centre opened its doors again last week to the public and the town’s young was quickly the centre of attention.

With provincial COVID restrictions eased on June 10 to allow gatherings inside the building, agency members of the Youth Positive Action Coalition (YPAC), assembled at 9 a.m. on the following day to do something extra special for local youth, and that was to create activity and information bags for hundreds of Innisfail students.

The YPAC representation included members from the Town of Innisfail, Innisfail Public Library, McMan Youth, Family and Community Services, Chinook’s Edge School Division, Henday Association for Lifelong Learning and Innisfail & Area Family Day Home Society.

YPAC is an Innisfail organization with a mission to offer programs and services for youth and young adults in Innisfail. Growing out of YPAC is the Youth Action Committee (YAC), a group of young Innisfailians who meet in town to discuss the needs of their own demographic, which is then passed on to YPAC.

“We are doing this just to put some positive activities in there for youth. We want to inform youth about the work of the Youth Action Committee and invite them to join and be a part of it,” said Karen Bradbury, the town’s representative on YPAC, and its community and social development coordinator.

YPAC members gathered in the building’s Community Room to put together the 760 bags for every Grade 7 to 12 public and Catholic school student in Innisfail, as well as homeschoolers and those attending school in Red Deer.

Each bag included a resource book for teens dealing with anxiety and depression, information for employment-related services for youth, a sketch book, book marks, fidget rings, wellness playing cards, colouring pencils, resources for dealing with exam stress, stickers from the Youth Action Committee and information about what YPAC and YAC is trying to do in the community, and much more.

When all the bag preparations were over, the delivery of them began to all Innisfail schools. Many bags will be left in strategic community locations for local students attending school in Red Deer and homeschoolers to pick up.

“We have a youth survey in there that we want them to complete, and we have some awesome prizes for those that complete the survey,” said Bradbury, adding student names will be put in a draw for prizes that include a Chromebook, skateboard, gift certificates and a scooter. “We want their feedback, and we do things they want to see done in the community.”

She added the activity and information bag project, which was funded from a “variety” of sources, including the RCMP’s Charity Check Stop and the Rotary Club of Innisfail, also had a COVID pandemic relief component.

“The longer COVID went on we know that mental health challenges have certainly been a big issue for a lot of individuals, especially youth, so we want to just give them something positive, as a pick-me-up to lift their spirits,” said Bradbury.

The gathering on June 11 to support and help young students also included a newcomer to the social service scene.

Louise Rellis is the executive director of the new Blackfalds-based Anam Rural Youth Association. Her agency, which focuses on youth struggling with mental health issues from all rural communities in Central Alberta, was approved for non-profit society status last March and already has 32 clients.

“We are very cognitive of the kids who live outside of those towns and villages and we are here to just support and help get word out about services that are available in each community and what youth can access,” said Rellis.

 



Johnnie Bachusky

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