The Red Deer and District Food Bank Society benefited from a number of the community’s caring youth this past weekend.
The group 100+ Kids Who Care held their bi-annual meeting last weekend at Kerry Wood Nature Centre. There were 107 youth, aged four to 18, who took part in a tree planting bee as part of the meeting. In total, nearly 1,500 trees were planted in three different locations on the Kerry Wood Nature site.
Christine Slaymaker, owner of Dance Magic Studio and a member of 100 Women Who Care wanted to use her close connection with youth through the studio to create a group that would make a lasting impact on Red Deer. She said last Saturday’s event was full of community spirit.
“It is completely inspiring. What we saw this weekend especially was the kids coming together to do something that they were passionate about but I really think they found that sense of camaraderie amongst the group as well, recognizing this is a group that is going to continue for years to come,” she said. “These are like-minded kids who care about their community and care about giving back and making a difference. It’s an incredible, incredible thing.
“It’s about coming together for this meeting twice a year but then also building that awareness that these kids really do have a voice and they can make a difference. That is the message that we want to send.”
The initiative to begin 100+ Kids Who Care was spurred by dancers at Dance Magic Studio in the spring of 2015. Officials with the group drew influence from 100 Women Who Care and 100 Men Who Care groups. One hundred (people) who care groups are a quick fundraising method that aim to bring together 100 people, each with the intent of donating $100 to a chosen charity. In terms of 100+ Kids Who Care, they each bring $10 to donate and their meetings are held twice a year.
Their first meeting was held last fall where more than 100 kids came out to participate in events which led to the donation of $1,490 to the Red Deer and District SPCA.
During the meetings multiple organizations, agencies and charities present to the youth about why the funds would be of benefit to them. This last Saturday the Red Deer Food Bank and the Kerry Wood Nature Centre gave presentations.
“Todd Nivens at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre told the kids they had done so much for the Centre that day and talked to them a little bit about water usage and what they could do in their daily lives to reduce their impact on the environment by using less water. He told them that if they can commit to doing that and the fact that they planted nearly 1,500 trees on the Nature Centre grounds, he believed they were already winners and encouraged them to give their votes to the food bank,” said Slaymaker. “It was a really cool thing. The Nature Centre did get some votes, but it was the food bank that won in the end.”
Ultimately, the Red Deer Food Bank received $1,070 in donations.
Currently, there are about 170 kids involved in the group and the momentum continues.
“It’s really exciting,” said Slaymaker. “Anytime you start something you want to see it grow and it’s important to me and to all of us who are part of this program that it continues to spread a message among the youth in Red Deer. We just want to see that be the focus of what this program does. The more kids we can get involved, the bigger the message.”
As part of last Saturday’s meeting, Slaymaker added youth also talked about what they had been doing since last fall’s meeting to make a difference in the community. “Lots of them had to do with the Red Cross and Fort McMurray and that was inspiring for the kids to hear what everyone else had been doing,” she said. “One girl is making bracelets and selling them at the farmers’ market with proceeds going to the Women’s Outreach Society.”
Erin Noden, 15, has been part of 100+ Kids Who Care since the beginning.
“I thought it was cool because I thought of 100 Women Who Care and 100 Men Who Care and I have never seen a Kids Who Care group. Younger people have voices too and they just don’t get to express that as much,” she said. “It feels really good to give back. Giving back to the food bank this weekend was great because I know if I was in that situation people would help me out. It’s a give and take.”
Kaden Nivens, 15, said it is also a great experience to be able to give back to the community.
“I really wanted to make a positive impact on our community,” said Nivens, of why he got involved with the group. “It’s a really cool feeling and it’s really cool to give back to the people who have helped you along.”
Noden added she encourages other youth to join 100+ Kids Who Care.
“It is only $10 a meeting. It’s not expensive and there are games and food and it’s really fun,” she said. “It’s fun to get involved. It’s something to get excited about.”
“It’s a ton of fun. It’s really, really fun to participate in and meet new people. I have made lots of new friends,” he said. “It’s also a way to get your voice out there. Once you get your voice into the crowd, it will travel really far.”
The next meeting for 100+ Kids Who Care will be held in late October or early November. More details will be released closer to that date. For more information visit www.reddeerdancemagic.ca and click under the ‘Events + Classes’ tab.