Through the Youth in Action program, up to 30 youth from Sooke and the West Shore have the opportunity to receive a $ 500 grant to invest in an initiative they believe will bring positive change to their community.
âIt may be a small change, but a big one,â says Cindy Andrew, director of community partnerships with Healthy Schools, Healthy People Network. “It can be any idea that helps build community.”
The program is managed by United Way of Southern Vancouver Island and the Healthy Schools, Healthy People Network, which consists of more than 30 member organizations ranging from government agencies like the Department of Child and Family Development and municipalities local to organizations like the Greater Victoria Public. Vancouver Island Library and YMCA-YWCA.
Andrew says the network was created with the recognition that “no system can achieve this beautiful vision of children’s development.” She notes that with the rapid growth of the West Coast, communities can no longer afford to operate in isolation.
Through his ongoing work, Andrew says the network is committed to better engaging and listening to the voices of young people. With that in mind, she says United Way has contributed $ 15,000 to the Youth in Action program with the intention of continuing it for at least two years.
âWe recognized that we have to listen and support young people and I think that with the coming of Centraide, it allows us to celebrate that,â said Andrew. âAnd these conversations among young people can be sparked at the table, in a club and with anyone who comes into contact with young people. It is a matter of community.
What can young people invest the money in?
Andrew says the possibilities are endless for young people who want to make a difference. The $ 500 grant can be used for something like a mental health fair or a social media campaign to raise money for a cause. Young people can use the money to start food security conversations and build a small pantry or free library at the end of their driveway.
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She notes a conversation she had with two children who were skateboarding near her home. Andrew asked if they were excited about the possibility of a new skatepark on the West Coast.
âAnd immediately they said, ‘When is this already built? â, Says Andrew. âI said, ‘Don’t underestimate the power of your voices. Right now the land is there, a few dollars have been donated but we need more. For $ 500 you can create a nice social media campaign with posters or a great video. ‘â
Those aged 11-16 can apply through a simple application process. Andrew says she and members of the United Way are also available to discuss ideas.
The hope, says Andrew, is that they will be able to award all 30 grants and inspire organizations and communities to fund more youth-led projects.
How to register
To apply for a Youth in Action grant, applicants must explain what type of project the money will be used for. A solid project includes an explanation of why the project is needed, the opportunities for young people to develop their skills and knowledge, and the potential to have an impact on the community.
Application forms and more information can be found here and the deadline to apply is Friday December 3rd.