Youth taking part in a youth engagement workshop discuss some of the topics from last year which came up in a brainstorming exercise with one of the workshop facilitators.

Youth taking part in a youth engagement workshop discuss some of the topics from last year which came up in a brainstorming exercise with one of the workshop facilitators.

Youth get involved

Youth engagement is improving in Fort St. James, according to some workshops recently.

Youth engagement is improving in Fort St. James.

At least this is the impression being given after the second set of youth engagement workshops put on by Peer Net B.C.

Facilitators Iris Yong Pearson and Lydia Luk helped put on workshops last year around youth engagement and group facilitation and returned again recently.

The youth were given a workshop training them in group facilitation and then community leaders came in for a workshop which was led by the youth.

Members of the District of Fort St. James council and Nak’azdli Band council both participated.

The workshops included discussions on where youth engagement was at in Fort St. James, with last year the youth giving the community a rating at the bottom of the engagement scale and community leaders giving themselves a rating at the top.

This year, the ratings were more moderate, meeting in the middle.

The workshops also looked at creating a map of the community which showed community leaders areas youth felt safe and comfortable and areas where there was room for improvement as well as where resources for youth are and what resources may be lacking.

“We’re hoping that this will drum up ideas and issues,” said Pearson. She hopes the youth then can bring these forward to the leaders and create some action planning so people can work together to move forward.

Emily Colombo, economic development officer for the District, said the workshops were successful in creating conversation with youth.

“It’s very exciting,” she said, after explaining the improvement in engagement which had taken place since the first workshops.

Since the initial workshops, youth have become more involved in a number of aspects of the community, with youth on the boards of area groups such as the Music on the Mountain Society and the Community Hall Committee.

The philosophy behind Peer Net is becoming more inclusive of everyone and connecting people.

Luk and Pearson both travel to different communities in the province to provide workshops including Williams Lake, Bella Coola and Port Alberni this year.

The pair said they are service providers who tailor their workshops to the community’s needs.

“There’s no cookie-cutter approach,” said Pearson.