Youths learn leadership roles in the community

One way to develop leaders is to give them the opportunity to find ways to become involved in the community

Members of the Torch Club hold up boxes used to save food for the Ponoka Food Bank. Pictured are (top) Savannah Wirchenko

Members of the Torch Club hold up boxes used to save food for the Ponoka Food Bank. Pictured are (top) Savannah Wirchenko

One way to develop leaders is to give them the opportunity to find ways to become involved in the community — one group of youths is growing by teamwork.

The Torch Club was recently started at Ponoka’s Boys and Girls Club of Wolf Creek and is headed by Stephanie Voysey, out of school care program co-ordinator. It has been hosted by Boys and Girls programs across Canada and started here in September.

Youths aged nine to 11 years old come together every Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. and they use five core philosophies in how they operate: leadership, healthy choices, teamwork, learning for life and service to the club and community.

“Basically everything that we do centres around those five core areas,” said Voysey.

She feels the eight youths who have started the project have been able to learn the value of leadership and working for the community. “It’s been phenomenal.”

Club members have canvassed community groups and businesses to introduce themselves and to offer their services should they be needed.

“The museum asked us to decorate cookies two weeks ago for their cookie walk. So we were able to go over there one evening and spent our meeting just decorating their cookies for them, which was really awesome,” she explained. “The kids are so excited about any opportunities they have to help in the community”

She posed the idea to Torch Club members they might do some fundraising during December and they jumped at the opportunity with different ways this could be tackled.

“We had to limit it down that was feasible top us,” said Voysey.

The youths are raising food and funds for the Ponoka Food Bank until Dec. 14. Those who do donate will have their names entered in a draw for a free School’s Out Days for their child. They are also selling hot chocolate at the Youth Centre from 5 to 5:30 p.m. for 50 cents Dec. 10 to 14. Proceeds will help the program grow further, she said.

Voysey feels the Torch Club helps develop these youth in different ways. “There’s a lot of little leaders.”

They also plan and develop other programs at the youth centre.

“Seeing them in front of their peers leading the games, they do great,” stated Voysey.

The youths have also learned the value of compromise as they each have many ideas to see the club move forward. With those different ideas they learn to work with each other to get the job done.

One member, Shanelle Remanda, enjoys the work involved. “I love that we have an opportunity to plan the events and just be part of them.”

There was some nervousness meeting with Ponoka businesses but she feels it had a positive effect on the community’s awareness of the Torch Club.

Voysey high hopes for the group and believes they have the ability to grow in the program and become future leaders. There is another group for older youths called Keystone and they range from 12 to 17 years old. They meet Wednesday afternoons from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.