Estevan youth centre is a step closer to launching

A Community Impact initiative of United Way Estevan recently announced that a non-profit organization has been created and the board for the Estevan Public Youth Centre (EPYC) Inc. was formed. Now plans are underway to open the centre as early as July.

The newly-formed board of directors consists of Cathy Welta, chairperson; Jordan Culham, vice-chairperson; Patrick Fisher, secretary; Sheila Guenther, treasurer; and directors Susan Colbow, Shelly Veroba and Brittany Zahn.

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The board of directors also thanked Jackie Wall, Travis Frank and Dwight (Fitz) Bramble for their assistance as members of the organizing committee. 

The group will continue to work towards launching a vibrant centre with a diverse range of programs for youths in Estevan.

"We've been meeting officially and unofficially since the end of 2019. This is over a year of planning, conversations and discussions," said Fisher.

The efforts of the people involved are now coming to fruition.

"We are definitely at the point where we have a vision for what we want and we know what it looks like," Fisher added.

Last January a large community consult aimed at eliciting the main needs of the target group was held to assist with shaping up the future centre.

"Various members of the community, various organizations gave us a lot of good initial direction for what they wanted to see," Fisher recalled.

The group also looked into the history of similar youth initiatives that were started in the past but didn't make it through time. They collected a lot of information to ensure that the new project would serve the immediate needs of Estevan youth.

Swift Current's youth organization, THE CENTER, was also a lot of help in consulting the EPYC on processes and procedures.

"They provided us a lot of good information on bylaws, finances that they've had over the past years from when they started up at the start of last decade to where they are now, job positions and ideas for programming that they've had provided."

Based on existing knowledge and experience, the hope is EPYC will gradually grow into a successful youth centre that serves local needs. The organization's ideas and goals were put into their main and simplified logos.

"Our vision is to collectively help youth to discover and grow in their passion, purpose and potential.

"Discovery is a journey - a compass symbolizes direction. The four arrows suggest that. The double arrow above and below our name is a Scandinavian (Viking) symbol for choose your own reality.

"The simplified version has arrows pointing forward and backward. The forward arrow suggests moving youth towards their passion, purpose, and potential. The backward arrow recognizes that sometimes we go in the wrong direction. EPYC is at the centre of it all, being there for those heading in the right direction and for those that are trying to find their way." 

Plans are underway to have EPYC programming available as early as July 2021. Phase 1 involves hiring a youth program director and using existing facilities on a rotating/as available basis.

"Right now our focus is going to be on finding information and funding so we can hire a program co-ordinator. For Phase I, our idea that with a program co-ordinator, a dedicated staff member, we can start doing programming without actual (permanent building for programs) to be held in. We can partner with churches, some other organizations that have places in town we need for a weekend or a day," Fisher said.

This approach will allow the organization to get an even better understanding of what appeals to local youth the most and eventually find the perfect location.

The programs to be offered through EPYC are to be discussed yet, but they all will serve the main goals of the organization.

"We want it to be there for the youth in town. We want it to be fun. We want it to be exciting. We want it to be inclusive."

Phase 2 will move to a temporary facility and additional programs. Phase 3 will see a long-term or permanent facility that allows for a variety of youth programs and mentorship opportunities for the community.

But so far, the focus is on allocating the funding to be able to hire a part or full-time programming staff member.

"We are reaching out to local government, businesses, organizations and individuals for financial support of this very needed program," reads EPYC's news release.

Community volunteers will be also needed to assist with programs when they open. Details regarding recruitment, signup and training will be provided at a later date.

Representatives of the EPYC were at Estevan city council Monday night to discuss the concept and answer questions from council members. Council approved $20,000 for the project.

For more information on how to support EPYC, people can visit their website at www.theepyc.ca or contact Sheila Guenther at United Way Estevan by email sheila@unitedwayestevan.com or phone 306-421-3357.

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