Youth HQ expands Big Brothers Big Sisters

Innisfail-area program shuts down

Youth HQ in Red Deer is reaching out to provide some of the programming previously run by the defunct Big Brother Big Sisters Prairies to Peaks.

Prairies to Peaks operated in Innisfail, Penhold, Bowden, Spruce View, Olds, and Sundre until earlier this month when it shut its doors due to a funding shortage.

Youth HQ (formerly the Youth and Volunteer Centre) executive director Jacquie Boyd said many adult and child/youth matches with Prairie Peaks have chosen not to continue. But her organization will be working with the less than half a dozen matches that remain.

“We have reviewed our capacity and at this point in time we are able to take on what is viewed as the traditional or community matches. We have committed to that definitively,” Boyd said.

And Youth HQ, that operates Big Brothers Big Sisters Red Deer & District, will take on more matches that come forward from those communities to the south, she said.

“We are analyzing at the moment if we can build capacity in order to assist in the other services that were provided there.”

She said Youth HQ will be working with the community of Innisfail and area on what can be done collaboratively. Prairies to Peaks’ in-school teen mentoring program had about 50 teen mentors and schools may want to pick up that successful program in the fall.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Red Deer & District currently has 64 traditional matches, as well as 32 in-school teen matches and 26 in-school adult matches which are winding down for the school year.

In April Red Deer and district had 63 children on the waiting list for a traditional match. One of the challenges is finding enough male mentors, she said.

“It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to be a mentor. Give us a call if you’re even considering it. I’ve heard from people that say they get more out if it than they ever thought they could.”

Boyd said research shows very significant outcomes for children and youth who have mentorship in their lives.

For more information visit youthhq.ca and albertamentors.ca.

szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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