Reaching out to youth

To the Youth and Volunteer Centre of Red Deer, for its efforts to set up a safe haven this winter for intoxicated or homeless youth to sleep.

Bouquet…

To the Youth and Volunteer Centre of Red Deer, for its efforts to set up a safe haven this winter for intoxicated or homeless youth to sleep.

With the help of $125,000 from the City of Red Deer, taken from its federal funds to address homelessness, the pilot project called Funding for the Youth Winter Inn is now a reality.

“It’s exciting. It will be good. I think it’s a needed service in the community and we’ll see where it takes us,” said an elated David Murphy, executive director of the Youth and Volunteer Centre.

Sadly, often when the topic of homelessness is raised, much of the attention is focused on an adult population struggling to stay well-fed and get a shelter over their heads during the bitter winter months.

But there are children out there facing the same hardships, seeking haven from the elements and a warm place to spend a night.

Many are confused and from broken families; victims of sexual and physical abuse; drug addicts; and possibly struggling with physical and mental challenges.

They are on the run for a reason. Some have booked a first-class seat on a runaway train that eventually takes them to a cycle of poverty and hopelessness.

That’s where groups such as the Youth and Volunteer Centre of Red Deer play a key role in throwing a wrench into that horrible cycle before these children reach adulthood.

Murphy said it was a struggle to find funding — 18 months to be exact — for the six-month pilot project because homelessness among youth isn’t always “on the radar.”

The 10-mat program with be open to youth aged 14 to 17, from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m., seven days a week.

Bouquet…

To Canadian environmentalist, author and broadcaster David Suzuki, recently awarded an “Alternative Nobel” for his work to raise awareness about climate change.

The honour was announced on Tuesday in Stockholm, Sweden, by the Right Livelihood Foundation, recognizing the 73-year-old scientist for his contribution in the never-ending fight against global warming.

Suzuki has never minced words when it comes to environmental issues. He is outspoken and highly respected in scientific circles.

With his classic gentle demeanour, yet pointed messages narrated at a grass-roots level, Suzuki has introduced Canadian viewers in his CBC series The Nature of Things to a world of natural wonders.

From his programs addressing the endangered tigers in India, the pods of killer whales around the world with unique hunting techniques, and the dramatic decline of songbirds in Alberta’s boreal forests, Suzuki has kept his viewers glued to the television.

His recent project dealing with the fragile Antarctica and the devastating effects global warming is inflicting upon one of this planet’s most vulnerable areas was a sad statement on what humans are capable of sacrificing in the name of greed and the almighty dollar.

Suzuki has brought home the message to Canadians that society is taking for granted forests and wild creatures.

While some may be tiring of the doom and gloom predicted by environmentalists, Suzuki’s messages demand that we should open our eyes and pay attention now.

When it’s gone, it’s gone for good.

Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.

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