Teens in Sechelt finally have a place to call their own, thanks to a repurposing of space at the Sechelt Learning Centre on Cowrie Street.
School District No. 46 (SD46) announced this week that the learning centre will be the new home of a long-awaited youth centre in Sechelt.
“Now that the SCRD [Sunshine Coast Regional District] has stepped up to fund a Sechelt Youth Centre program, we are delighted to be able to move this vision forward,” said Silas White, SD46 board chair.
The SCRD committed to provide $40,000 for the program in April of this year, which allowed for the hiring of a youth programmer and the ability to open every weekday; however, a permanent home was needed.
The Sechelt Youth Centre had been operating out of the resource centre on Trail Avenue for a number of years but the resource centre needed their space back, said Sechelt Community School coordinator Heather Gordon, who oversees the program.
“So we were getting concerned about where we would go,” she noted.
Conversations with SD46 began and the school board revisited information gathered during Neighbourhood of Learning consultation meetings, which showed a youth centre as a good fit for the site.
Gordon wanted a separate space where the teens could come and go, and the detached building at the learning centre housing StrongStart seemed the perfect fit.
In order to make it happen, SD46 had to move the StrongStart program inside the main area of the learning centre and reconfigure some spaces, which is now underway.
The change will create an early childhood development hub inside the main building that includes StrongStart, SPARK!, the Imagination Library, Ready, Set, Learn, KinderSPARK and the popular Tiny Town for kids under five. The KIDZ Club after-school program will also be offered in the hub as well as the Learning and Parenting Together program for teen parents working toward graduation.
“The hub building will act as the centre of a broad web of services,” said Kirsten Deasey, early learning coordinator.
“Parents and children accessing services in the hub building will be able to gain information and seamless access to a continuum of supports.”
The move is an obvious win for the youth centre as well, which will be located downtown, directly across the street from the library and aquatic centre and in walking distance of Chatelech Secondary School and the alternative school. The location is also on a bus route.
The Sechelt Youth Centre serves youth aged 13 to 18 and will be open Tuesday to Friday after school. It will also be open on Saturdays at a time yet to be scheduled.
Teens can hang out, play games or take part in activities that are decided upon by the group — all for free.
“The Sechelt Youth Centre provides a safe, fun, positive environment where youth are able to relax, socialize and participate in healthy recreational programming,” Gordon noted.
She hopes to be moved into the new building by the end of October but notes the space needs some work to transform it from a toddlers’ room to a teens’ hangout.
To keep up to date with the move and find out when the official opening day will be, follow the centre on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SecheltYouthCentre.
“That’s the best way to connect with us,” Gordon said.