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  • Writer's pictureKristy Colby-Pyle

Youth Leadership at Phelps

What is the Phelps Helps Youth Committee?

The Phelps Helps Youth Committee consists of seven members aged 14 to 18 who applied and were chosen for a one-year volunteer leadership role at Phelps Helps. Most that have a seat on this committee also partake in many of Phelps’ other programs, tutoring, The Lounge, etc. They have been an active group throughout the year, becoming involved in planning the winter ball held in the Pats Burns arena, and participating in the 7th Annual Y4Y Youth Forum (more on each event later on). They’ve been nicknamed “the Next Generation of Change Makers” by Phelps for good reason. The committee meets monthly to discuss future plans, events, and activities.


What is the purpose of the Youth Committee in the eyes of Phelps?


The Youth Committee is about the potential of the younger generation. It is about giving them the power to make changes in their community, and to see this potential they might not know they have. It can be hard as a younger person to understand that you can have an impact in society, much less your community. Even if you cannot drive, have a stable income, or vote in the country’s elections, you can still contribute to your community in many ways. They are proof of this. They are talented and resourceful young members of our society. Each joined for a chance to make a change, to be able to contribute to their community, and to realize this growing potential they have. Their their interest in making change is shown in them attending the Y4Y Youth Forum  while their ability can be seen in the events such as the Winter ball.


What is the Y4Y youth forum?


This yearly forum is designed to inform, empower, and engage Quebec’s English-speaking youth. Five of our committee members, accompanied by two of our employees, participated in a full day

of sessions which included youth-led panels on Employment, Education, and Civic engagement, as well as a presentation called “English speaking youth: Who we are, in numbers and nuance.” The event also featured presentations by Elections Canada, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, Apathy is Boring, and Institut de Nouveau Monde, and a youth artist exhibit.


What was the take away from the Youth Committee of the forum?

 

There was a lot of insightful discussion during and after the youth forum. Some of the recurring thoughts were: How important it is to emphasize and learn about critical thinking at a high school level. The importance of immigrant and minority voices in a community. How important it is to speak up for change and be involved in real life groups who are advocating for a better world. We hope that this experience will equip the group to tackle projects that would involve them presenting to the local town counsellors on issues facing young people in Stanstead.

 

What was the Winter ball?


The winter ball was an event created by the youth committee. For three fun-filled hours youth ages twelve to seventeen sauntered into the Pat Burns arena in their best sneakers, dresses and suits to attend. Teens, French and English, from La Ruche, Alexander Galt and Stanstead College, all took center stage on the dance floor with a DJ blasting tunes for them to dance and sing to. There was even a photographer there to take fun group photos for participants to reminisce on for years to come.

 

How were the Youth Committee involved?


In all, each of the seven Youth Committee members put in over twenty hours of preparation for the Ball. This included set up and take down, food preparation, planning, and more. The full second floor was decorated with balloons, white lights and handmade paper snowflakes by the skilled handiwork of the committee youth.

When Phelps Helps first started promoting the ball, the teens that were spoken to were interested

but hesitant. Due to this popular event, requests continue to pour in from teens to hold another dance as soon as possible. The feedback from parents was also overwhelmingly positive, especially given the nostalgia factor; the older generation remembering past dances, happy their kids could also enjoy the experience.

 

These combined experiences have an important benefit. They help with increasing the sense of belonging of the committee members themselves, but also of all the teens taking part in their events. Feeling pride for Stanstead and feeling connected and engaged to Phelps are vital to build our teens up so they can better handle all of life’s complexities and hopefully help their peers do the same.


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