Programs created at the Ponoka Youth Centre (PYC) are finding positive results in the kids who take part.
The key theme during a presentation by PYC executive director Beth Reitz, at the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday, May 17 related to how the centre’s kids are growing in positive ways.
Reitz hosted a Jeopardy-like game to get attendees involved in the session. Through the questions and answers, she was able to highlight the programs and their benefits.
Of those programs, there are four on offer to kids aged five to 11: after school programming, summer programs, school’s day out and the Torch junior leadership program.
Another aspect of PYC is the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program. Reitz said planners have found that a child comes out of this program with increased self-esteem, improved social skills, enhanced academic achievement and improved resiliency. The mentor program has seen some growth, most recently with the teen mentoring arrangements. “We’ve really seen some benefits from this program,” said Reitz.
There are also a variety of options available to youths aged 12 to 18. Along with the breakfast and lunch programs, there is Elevate, which provides gender specific programming.
“We make sure there’s a program that covers every aspect of being a youth in the community,” said Reitz.
Over the last 13 years, the PYC has grown so much that last year there were 690 individuals, making 20,000 visits to the PYC. “It’s pretty large numbers for such a small building.”
She suggests a tangible way business owners can support the PYC is by supporting the in-school mentoring program. There are six businesses in Ponoka that allow for paid in-school mentoring, about one hour per week, where a child is matched with an adult.
Reitz suggests a business will see other benefits by a reduction in employee absenteeism, increased retention, an improved public image and an increase in company recognition by 85 per cent.
“It really does change your employee’s opinions on the community,” said Reitz.