Hope Mission sees a need for a youth centre in Red Deer’s north end to help children from low-income families.
Kelly Row, Red Deer Hope for Mission manager, said about 150 kids are on a wait list to attend the mission’s free after-school programs running at four schools.
The Kids in Action program is full with 170 elementary school students, and Youth in Action has 80 middle school students.
“We weren’t expecting this kind of response,” said Row about the programs that were started last year.
Hope Mission, a not-for-profit Christian social care agency, has a youth centre in Edmonton that’s open six days a week.
He said discussions with Unity Baptist Church have begun to look at working together and using some of the church’s land on Northey to build a youth centre.
“We’re in the beginning stages, just talking. They’ve got a piece of land. It’s in an ideal location and we believe it’s a good enough size we could put something substantial there.”
He said the location is around the corner from Normandeau School and not far from Aspen Heights Elementary School and Glendale Sciences and Technology School. Hope Mission also runs programs at G.H. Dawe School.
Construction of the city’s $8.8-million North Red Deer Community Centre is scheduled to begin in the spring and will include an indoor playground and multi-purpose spaces.
But Row said families can’t necessarily afford to access city facilities. Recently some Hope Mission staff were at G. H. Dawe Community Centre playing basketball and invited some kids they knew to join in, but the kids said they didn’t have the money to play.
He said while Hope Mission can access school gymnasiums for free, but schools also run sports programs.
“Having a youth centre would make it easy. If we have kids on a wait list we could invite them there and work with them in our own building.”
While the economy has definitely impacted people, there are a number of kids and families in north Red Deer who will always need support, Row said.
He said the public’s reaction will determine the future of the project.
“The driving force will be the fundraising, if there are people that see this as a major need and jump on board and want to help us put this together quicker rather than slower.”