It’s an idea that started out quietly, but has been gradually gaining momentum. Now, it appears it’s going ahead, and with support from the community.
Nobody should be in doubt whether the Estevan Public Youth Centre (EPYC) would be a great idea, if it’s done right. It’s something that has been lacking in our community for a long time, and has proven to be a success in similar-sized communities, such as Swift Current.
Meetings have been happening for close to two years. They have a board in place with people from several different sectors in the community. Those on the board are parents and grandparents who can talk to young family members, and those kids’ friends, about what they would like to see.
And last week Estevan city council committed $20,000 towards the initiative. So far it’s all good news.
They’ve also said they want to have programming starting this summer. It might seem like putting the cart before the horse, since they don’t have a facility yet, but they want to have ditial programming.
It’s hard to say whether such programming will appeal to youths, but at least today’s young people are used to virtual programs. They’ve grown up with it. And they’re more likely to accept it than adults.
Of course, other similar concepts have been tried in Estevan, and have had varying degrees of success, but ultimately haven’t been sustained for the long-term. Usually, they’ve been connected to the idea of a hang-out. The youth centre for Estevan would be much more than just a hang-out.
We’ve seen churches try it before, but this needs to move further than just a faith-based component. That being said, it’s certainly great to see representatives of local churches on the board, because they have a lot to contribute with ideas and experience.
The EPYC is going to have measures in place for kids who come and show signs of impairment by drugs or alcohol. The ability to corral such behaviour will go a long ways in determining the success of the program, once they do find a home, because this has to be a place where kids feel safe and adults are comfortable sending their kids.
And, as was noted at last week’s council meeting, this youth centre isn’t just a place where kids come to play dodgeball.
As we continue to rethink Estevan, as we place a greater emphasis on it as a place to live, and as continue to see a greater emphasis on retaining our residents, a facility like this becomes even more important. It’s vital to have it for families, not just if they’re looking to come here, but once they arrive.
Those who are looking to bring the youth centre to Estevan obviously picked a tough time to deliver such a service to the community. It’s not going to be easy to open during or right after a pandemic, not just because of the difficulties of offering programming outside of the virtual realm, but the challenges associated with fundraising and finding a permanent home.
We can see the need for such a facility in the Estevan area. Based on the reaction we’ve heard, the community sees the need for such a program as well.
Those involved with the EPYC will have a tough time not only trying to get it started now, but proving the nay-sayers wrong. The CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) crowd can be tough to win over, even once EPYC is up and running and providing its valuable service.
With the amount of time that has gone into planning, and the people who are involved, those are certainly steps in the right direction.