Diane Janzen, head of Chilliwack Community Services, and Josh Togeretz, youth outreach worker with Cyrus Centre, at Main Street Church drop-in centre. Additional youth recreation funding for CCS this year will see a new drop-in location opening in Sardis. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress file)

Expanded youth recreation program for Chilliwack aimed at preventing high-risk behaviour

Youth the fastest-growing demographic in Chilliwack, so funding geared to after-school activities

The idea is keeping youth off the streets as much as possible, and away from high-risk activities, during the critical after-school hours.

Chilliwack Community Services has plans for the $76,000 received from City of Chilliwack, to expand the Community Recreation Program from Youth Services, with a new youth advisory committee and a new youth drop-in location on the south side.

“This is a pivotal addition to our services for youth in the community,” said Diane Janzen, executive director of Chilliwack Community Services.

With youth under 26 as the fastest growing demographic in Chilliwack, CCS is targeting the “significant areas of needs and gaps” in youth services.

“We are so excited to be offering activity-based programming that enhances stability and prevents high-risk behaviours,” Janzen said. “This gives youth an opportunity to naturally grow within their peer groups and become the future leaders that we know they can be when given the opportunity.”

She offered thanks to the city “for recognizing this need and continuing to support our vision.”

The focus will be on physical, mental, social, and emotional recreational programming providing positive role models, healthy activities and habits, volunteer and leadership opportunities. With the support of the Child and Youth Committee (CYC), representing 34 agencies, the submission for the extra funding for CCS was approved.

They’ll be expanding programs for the crucial 9-to-18 age group across Chilliwack.

“It specifically targets youths during after-school hours who would otherwise be unable to afford such activities due to barriers including low family income, lack of transportation, a lack of natural support systems, and an overall lack of accessibility.”

The goal is building “long-term resilience” by decreasing access to street-entrenched activities that puts young people at higher risk for drugs, criminal behaviour, and future homelessness.

Chilliwack Community Services, under the aegis of Youth Services, has offered counselling, recreation, education and housing through The Village on School Street, and has more than doubled the number of young people it serves, now serving close to 600 per year.

Elements of the expansion:

• Develop youth advisory committee;

• Expand youth programming in Rosedale/Promontory;

• Develop third youth drop-in site for Sardis;

• Community partnerships;

• Volunteer recruitment; and

• Increase Afternoon Adventures programs


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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Youth recreation funding at Chilliwack Community Services is getting a boost. (Submitted)

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