Drop-in program keeps Ponoka youth busy

By Dale Cory

“There’s nothing to do!”

“I’m bored!”

Parents, how many times have you heard those complaints from your kids?

Well, the Ponoka Youth Centre is working toward alleviating teenage grumbling by continuing the teen drop-in program, giving local youth many options in their spare time.

“Kids have all types of interests. There’s the sports, and the creative areas. We try to provide a safe place where kids can come and enjoy themselves,” says Morgen Chernick, program director at the Ponoka Youth Centre. “We provide a bully-free environment. We want positive interaction with other adults, as well as with other teens.”

The teen drop-in program, which comes at no cost to teenagers, is structured to provide youth with something different every day.

On this particular afternoon, Creative Café took the spotlight, with Katie Peters, the Creative Cafe program co-ordinator, working with those youth in attendance on word games.

“This place is basically here to help people so they don’t go out and do bad things on the streets. You come here to hang out and have a good time in an appropriate way,” says Kyle, a 17-year-old who has been coming out to the youth centre for four years. “For me, this place provides a wonderful purpose to come and hang out, to make new friends and have a good time.”

Wednesday is Face-Off, a sports day offering games in the gym from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., while Friday and Saturday is teen drop in, during which youth can hang out from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., playing rock band and guitar hero, watch movies and playing in the gym.

The youth centre will set up an inflatable boxing ring Friday, Sept. 24 during teen drop-in.

Youth are required to become a member. They will receive a membership number, and need to sign in when they attend the teen drop-in.

Out of School Care Program

The Ponoka Youth Centre is also getting its Out of School Care Program underway for another school year. The program, geared for children six to 11 years, runs Monday to Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“Throughout the course of the day, we always include physical activity and child-directed play. We really encourage them to become involved with other kids in a completely bully-free environment,” says Chernick. “The kids do crafts, activities and community involvement.”

The Out of School Care Program has a cost of $8 per day, which includes snacks and supervision. The Ponoka Youth Centre is government licensed, and as such, offers government subsidization for lower income families. The youth centre can also assist parents in applying for a childcare subsidy.

“We’re trying to help every family in the community and let every child have an opportunity,” adds Chernick.

For further information, call 403-783-3112, or log on to: www.ponokayouthcentre.com