Youth Unlimited is looking for volunteers.
To expand its drop-in program, Central Alberta Youth Unlimited is looking for adults willing to spend a few hours a week hanging out with kids.
Youth Unlimited Drop-In Centre Coordinator Gregg Lockhart said the organization has been able to expand the program a bit already, in thanks part to both a grant and a new summer student.
Still, the program wants to expand further.
Attracting more children in Grades 4-6 is currently a target area for the program, said Lockhart. “We’ve added more this summer than we have ever had.”
For further expansion, the program needs more volunteers. Lockhart said he would like the program to have one volunteer for every five or six kids involved in the drop-in program.
Duties of volunteers involved in the program can range greatly, Lockhart said.
It can be as simple as being a friendly face they see when they come in, to running the canteen, to playing games with kids, to just sitting on the couch and chatting.
“A big chunk of it is just coming in and hanging out,” said Lockhart.
Currently, drop-in events see anywhere between 15 and 25 children attending.
That means the program needs at least four volunteers per session (plus a paid staff members) to run it.
For Lockhart, who does a lot of volunteering in the community outside of Youth Unlimited, volunteering is a way of passing on the kindness showed him when he was younger.
He said the reason he does a lot of what he does is because he once had a mentor in the Scouts program who had a big influence on his life and reshaped him.
Lockhart hopes he can do the same for someone else now. Besides that, he finds volunteering a lot of fun.
“I love it,” said Lockhart, who as a part-time staffer fits both the role of volunteer and staff member.
“I would do it for nothing if I could afford to do it for nothing.”
Volunteering at the YU-Turn Centre is also a chance to make a huge impact on the life of a young person, said Lockhart.
“You get to hang out and have fun with a great group of kids that will be the leaders of our community.”
He went on to say this presents people with a chance to influence the leaders of tomorrow today.
He said just by hanging out with kids for a few hours a week, anyone can have a huge impact on that child’s character.
“Our motto is ‘we see the hope and potential in every young person,’” said Lockhart.
“It’s more than just words on a piece of paper. It’s ingrained in how we live. Every one of these kids has so much potential.”
He added the program is about creating a safe environment for kids to hang out and connect with other good people.
“I think there are a lot of things that are pulling them in that aren’t safe for them,” said Lockhart.
He added there are so many behaviours, interests or characteristics that children can be judged for that it is important for them to know there are people who accept them for who they are and there is a place to express themselves without judgment.
“If you’re a little loud, that’s okay, at times, you can be loud,” said Lockhart.
“If you’re hyper-active at school and it’s hard, you can be hyper-active here. There are so many ways we want to instill safety and confidence in these kids.”
Anyone wishing to get involved with the Youth Unlimited Drop-In Program can get more information by dropping by the YU-Turn Centre or contacting Gregg Lockhart at firstname.lastname@example.org.