A new project for youth initiated by Community Services had its launch at the Chestermere Yacht Club last Wednesday night. This was an official get together to celebrate the successful debut of Synergy, an agency that promotes volunteerism in the community by the interaction of youth and the larger community such as volunteer organizations and their supporters. An example is the upcoming Chestermere Bike Park in which the YELL youth program joined forces with the Rotary Club to make the project happen.
Synergy came about through the vision of Patty Sproule, Director of Community Services who is in charge of the 24 staff who makes up the Town’s Community Service team. Patrick Bergen, former Councillor from the town came on board this spring under mentorship from Sproule to head the project.
In Bergen’s address at the celebration he defined Synergy as a process where individuals pool their talents to create an effect with a sum greater than the efforts of the individual. In a later interview he said, “The goal is to build youth leadership in a cooperative effort with outside groups.”
Chestermere resident Sproule who has been with the Town for 6 years saw a gap in programs for 10 to 14 year olds. While these programs evolve in more traditional ways in communities such as the Boys and Girls Club for example, they were lacking in Chestermere. She attributes this hole due to our town’s rapid growth. Initially under the umbrella of the Town, the goal is for Synergy to obtain its charitable status ensuring access to a larger pool of grants. By fall the project should be operating on its own two feet.
Sproule saw the potential for a self-sustaining not for profit group that could address the needs of youth in the community through programs and volunteer opportunities. Spring brought together residents who were not employees of the town to be part of a steering committee further evolving the Synergy Project.
On May first the Synergy website www.truesynergy.ca was launched. The aim of the website is to be the “go to” place to connect volunteer opportunities with volunteers and to find out about youth programs in the community.
The timely launching of the site was synchronistic for those looking to help out with the recent flood relief with 500 hits coming in on the first day of the disaster. New updates and requests are still coming in as people are dealing with the monumental task to rebuild their lives.
The town already has in place the Youth Encouraging Lasting Leadership program(YELL)for kids aged 14 to 18. Younger age groups are included in the Shout program for kids aged 10 to 14 with a KIDZ group aimed at the 7 to 9 year olds. A goal of this town based group is to engage children in volunteerism and activities that inspire confidence and building of their talents to ensure strong communities for the future. It’s these kids that will model great citizenship by becoming part of the cornerstones of the foundation for successful communities.
Through the programs kids of all ages have a chance to engage in group fun where the structure is looser and interaction is with positive role models, many who hail from a younger generations than parents. The Yacht Club was full of these dynamic young people.
Bergen has nothing but praise for summer interns Serena Shokar and Darrell Hargrove. “They were amazing in accomplishing what they did.”
Shokar’s own confidence and positivity shone that night and her undertaking of organizing the event was first class.
Hargrove’s own passion is evident with his exuberance and love of working with youth. This has influenced his direction in schooling towards teaching at a high school level. In the meantime the summer position has fueled his passion to offer kids opportunities and activities aimed to tap into their own abilities and build confidence.
Both university students came on board to work with Angela Heagy from Community Services to put together the Super Heroes camp which was held on June 21 and 22 at Camp Chestermere. Sixteen participants had a fun weekend discovering their inner strength and passions (their “Super Power”), the negative inner voices (or “Villains”) and their “Kryptonite”. Bergen said, “Participants learned most importantly their ability to choose their life perspective.”
What has come forward from the experience of the youth groups is that the kids love unstructured time. In a world that demands a lot of structure to get things done, this “down time” is what really cements the learning process. Bergen’s own observations in his years as being a hockey coach with his son’s team saw this same process. He said the elite players were the ones who spent time in the game away from the ice so to speak. Like the kids out on the street playing some street hockey with whoever comes out to join.
What is evident from Bergen’s life is that when we tap into our passions we really become of service and our passions are non-stoppable in moving people and projects off the ground. Our inspiration is elevated to a higher level and we become a force of change much like Super Heroes.
If any young people aged 10 to 17 are looking for some summer boredom busters they are invited to check out the website at www.truesynergy.ca . Access can also be found through their facebook and twitter accounts. Summer activities run at John Peake Park on Thursdays now through to Aug 15 from 1 to 3 in the afternoon with the possibility of other programs throughout the summer. As well there are activities planned in Langdon. Stay tuned!