Having a place to call home – a place to kick off your shoes and work on creative projects with your friends – are few and far between, especially if you are a teen in Lacombe.
And maybe that’s what the city is missing – a place for skaters to park their boards, a place for artists to work on their latest creation or a place for teens to receive mentorship as they navigate through life.
Creativity ebbs and flows and so do visions. Lyle Notice, an associate youth director at Alberta Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, has a clear vision of a place, a community hub designed for youth interested in urban culture (those interested in skateboarding, street art, hip hop and the like), for this city.
“Some people may say Lacombe is not urban so to speak,” said Notice. “But there are urban elements to it. There are kids who are and who identify with it. It would be cool to have a spot, a place in Lacombe where they can come and sort of just be themselves and be creative – have a safe place to land.”
And off that vision, a concrete idea has formed – the creation of an urban youth centre called the Lab.
“The term lab comes from an old-school hip hop term, when a DJ or producer was in the ‘lab’ they were working on their craft, they were working on their skills,” explained Notice. “This would be a place where these kids can come and work on their art, their craft.”
Designed as a youth-targeted drop-in centre that would be mainly open during the evening hours, the Lab would feature urban hair cutting, break dancing workshops, DJing and beat making – some of the main elements of hip hop.
“It would be like a cool, swanky hub for people who have ideas, who basically want to work on themselves,” said Notice.
“No one is there to help them navigate through some of those choices that they are making,” he added of some of the youth in the city. “So if they can come into a place where they receive mentorship, life skills, empowerment, where we can teach them how to become great citizens of society and how to become the greatest person they can be.”
Notice’s passion for youth outreach, hip hop and the concept of the Lab comes from his upbringing.
“I’m not saying that hip hop saved my life but it helped to save me from going the wrong way.”
By attending a centre in Toronto that had a similar concept, Notice learned some of the elements of hip hop and how to break dance. “It gave me focus and a purpose,” he said. “It was something I could put energy and time into. I want to bring the same sort of opportunity to some of these kids here in Lacombe.”
For young Lacombian, entrepreneur and skater Jack Mundy, 16, the Lab would be a place where he could actualize his dreams.
Mundy and Notice met at the skate park a few months back and began discussing ideas to start up a clothing line. Mundy is already deep into plans to create a skateboarding clothing line that has a taste of Lacombe blended into it.
“We just want to make something for the skate community in Lacombe,” said Mundy. “The Lab would be a great place to develop the idea.”
Mundy added quite often, once the sun sets, skaters in Lacombe don’t have anywhere to go and just hang out. The Lab could be that ‘after-hours’ place for youth to kick it, in a safe atmosphere.
As one of the driving forces behind the Lab, Mundy shares Notice’s vision of what the centre could be.
“It’s given me the opportunity, with the Lab, to express myself and make something for our city that we can be proud of,” he said. “It’s helped me kind of find myself and identify who I am. It’s going to be cool for it to develop and see it grow.”
Notice pitched the idea to Lacombe City councillors at a recent council meeting. The councillors were receptive to the idea and were excited to see how the idea evolves over the next few months.
“I really hope that this place can bring a sense of pride to Lacombe,” said Notice. “I see multiple people benefiting from an initiative like this.”
The Lab will start off as a one-year pilot project. Notice has secured support from several Seventh-Day Adventist organizations and plans to seek out grants and other funding opportunities within the community. He also plans to have many volunteers on deck, including Burman University students, to help manage the centre when it’s in full operation.
With a possible location selected, Notice and Mundy hope to have the Lab up and running by next summer.
For more information about the project, contact Notice at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 587-877-9793.