The Red Deer High Risk Youth Coalition is marking 10 years of serving local youth and at-risk young adults in the community. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

Barbecue marks accomplishments of the High Risk Youth Coalition

Coalition’s stakeholders craft community-wide initiatives for at-risk youth and young adults

The Red Deer High Risk Youth Coalition is marking 10 years of serving local youth and at-risk young adults in the community.

“Today is an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the accomplishments of the High Risk Youth Coalition over the past decade,” said Theresa O’Hara, a youth worker with the Red Deer-based YouthHQ.

“The Red Deer High Risk Youth Coalition is composed of people from a diverse array of community organizations as well as provincial and municipal government representatives, who have chosen to work collaboratively on a strategic, community-wide approach to address the needs of high risk youth and young adults in our community.”

During the event, participants were also taking part in the shooting of a video to support youth and young adults in Red Deer who are living/have lived a high-risk lifestyle, and who want to share their story and provide input into next steps for the Coalition.

Local filmmaker Rueben Tschetter with Cache Productions was onhand to oversee direction of that project, which should be wrapped up early this fall and will also provide something of a teaching tool and awareness builder as well.

“We are compiling a short video to support youth and young adults in Red Deer who are living, or who have lived a higher risk lifestyle,” she said. “They can share their stories and provide input, as well as (help) with the next steps in the efforts to support the youth and young adults experiencing high-risk factors.”

Several local agencies were onhand at the event to share information about what they can offer youth.

That all goes to bolstering awareness about the Coalition — and what it can provide — to more people across the Central Alberta community.

“This is quite a unique factor, in that all community youth-serving agencies get together and see how we can support the youth and the young adults of our community,” she said of the collaborative nature of agencies in Red Deer.

“That’s very unique — that around the table we do have police, we have probation officers, we have the schools, the family support workers, we have addiction and mental health workers. We also have youth-serving agencies such as Vantage (Community Services) Street Ties Youth Outreach and Heritage Family Services just to name a few. It’s amazing.

“We had the community of Grande Prairie come down to see how they could get something like this started, because it is very unique. There aren’t alot of communities that do this that I’m aware of,” she said.

“We share information, we share resources, we share ideas — all about how can we better serve the youth in Red Deer?

“People ask me, ‘What do you think the youth need?’ I say, let’s ask the youth. That’s what we are doing today,” she said.

“Today was really designed to celebrate these young people and their courage in sharing their stories.”

O’Hara has been part of the Coalition since day one.

“It’s about trying to empower those ones who don’t feel that they have a voice or that they aren’t being heard. Or who feel like they don’t fit in the box. To me, it’s about really advocating for them.”

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