CONNECTING - Local youth enjoy some time together via the Youth In Action program that is run by Hope Mission. The program offers youth mentoring opportunities plus several fun activities to take part in.

Hope Mission continues to reach more young people in Red Deer

Staff has been busy connecting with kids and families through schools in the City

  • Jan. 4, 2017 5:48 p.m.

Hope Mission continues to fulfill its mandate by reaching more local young people then ever before.

Staff with the not-for-profit Christian social care agency have been busy connecting with kids and families through schools in the City. Those connections come through primarily through the Kids In Action and the Youth in Action programs.

Last year was the organization’s first year working with Grade 6 to 8 students, noted Kelly Row, Red Deer program manager, adding that they had close to 80 kids had initially signed up in four schools (Glendale, Normandeau, G.H. Dawe and Central).

“This is in addition to our close to 170 students signed up for our Kids In Action after school program. It is our second year running this program in four schools (Glendale, Normandeau, G.H. Dawe and Aspen Heights).”

The Kids in Action after school program was launched in the fall of 2015, while Youth in Action was rolled out just this past fall after Thanksgiving – Row said that school staff were also interested in a program for the older kids as they enter their teenage years.

“We got approval from our bosses up in Edmonton to expand and to take on a youth ministry, so we hired two full-time staff,” he said, adding that the team took some time last September to build the program. “The schools had already committed to letting us come in – so we had partners already established.

“The schools have been very supportive – they could see the need before we even got there,” he said. “They are also excited to see what the end results are.

“So we shot for a group of 20 kids in each school, and again we are wait-listed,” he said. “We have lots of kids signed up and they are enjoying the program.

“We’re also looking at helping them learn some new skills, build character and build healthy relationships,” he said, adding there is also a nutrition component too. “So far in the skill development (component), we looked into dance, sculpture and drama with them with more skills to come as the year goes on.

“In the character building, they’ve learned principles about patience, perseverance and forgiveness,” he said. “So that’s where we have started out from, and where we are headed.

“What we are trying to do is to create a little family within the schools; to see them have new friendships develop and to learn that we are in this together,” he added. “We are trying to provide an atmosphere where there is more support and encouragement for the kids.”

Kids in Action is also a mentorship and meal program where kids participate in fun activities and learn from mentors who model positive, healthy lifestyles.

Hope Mission began in 1929 in Edmonton as a soup kitchen and men’s shelter. Today, the organization has grown into an Alberta-wide social care agency serving men, women, youth and children.

Meanwhile, the roots of the youth programs go back to when staff and volunteers at Edmonton’s Hope Mission started seeing more youth hanging around the facility there. Staff felt that it was vital to get involved with kids and youth at early stages to help provide positive influences that could help them make good life choices down the road.

As Row has said, there’s lots of work to do amongst the students in terms of prevention – helping to steer the youth in the direction of making the best choices for their lives.

“It’s like a preventative branch of our ministry.”

Ultimately, establishing a full-fledged youth centre would be a terrific addition to the community, he said.

For more information about Hope Mission here in Red Deer, check out www.hopemission.com/reddeer/ or call 587-877-9678. You can also email them at reddeer@hopemission.com.

mark.weber@reddeerexpress.com

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