Ponoka County council members Bryce Liddle, Paul McLauchlin, Nancy Hartford, Mark Matekja and Doug Weir pose with representatives of the Ponoka Youth Centre and Big Brothers Big Sisters following the group’s presentation on March 13. The county approved $40,000 for youth programming. Photo submitted

Area young people to benefit from Ponoka County support

Ponoka/Rimbey youth programs net $40,000 county donation for Big Brothers and Youth Centre

Providing support for county residents, especially those programs designed to help young people, is important to Ponoka County councillors.

That’s why a motion was approved to maintain the funding for the Ponoka/Rimbey Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) as well as the Ponoka Youth Centre/Boys and Girls Club of Wolf Creek at the same $40,000 level as last year. The motion was passed unanimously at council’s March 13 meeting after a presentation by the organization.

In a bit of a departure from the past, council heard the bulk of the presentation from the perspective of the individuals that participate and benefit from the various programming offered.

Kynna Hvizdos along with ‘little brother’ Isaiah Jefferson, who were matched through BBBS two years ago, gave a rundown of the functions and program offerings — such as traditional mentoring and gender-specific group mentoring. The pair also spoke about how their match has affected them, in a positive manner, something that couldn’t be accomplished without the county’s financial support.

“Traditional mentoring is what people think about when you say Big Brothers Big Sisters. It’s just about offering support, friendship and a positive role model,” explained Hvizdos.

“Sometimes it’s just hanging out and spending time with someone, which is super important. Though what I’m involved in is the in-school mentoring, spending an hour per week in the school setting, with their match working on social development, building self-esteem through crafts, sports or other activities.”

For Isaiah, the mentoring program has enabled him to see the positives in life and provide him with more self-confidence.

Hvizdos added, “I got involved 10 years ago and when the idea was presented to me, I was apprehensive as I didn’t think I’d be good at it. But looking back, it has been one of my best decisions as an adult. It allowed me to increase my own confidence and realize I do have something to offer. For me, this is a way to stay connected to my community and the opportunity to invest in the life of another person.”

Yael Witvoet and Hayden Feragen, both Ponoka Youth Centre members, spoke on behalf of the two youth clubs and their thoughts on how it helps the community.

“(The youth centre) is a place where people can make friends and everyone is usually accepting there, that’s what I think is best about it,” said Feragen, who is vice-president of the Keystone Club — the youth centre’s leadership program for teens.

Witvoet brought forward a few 2017 statistics for council.

For BBBS, 137 youths matched with a mentor, 90 involved in group mentoring, rural youth served were 45 per cent in Ponoka and 36 per cent in Rimbey. Meanwhile, two youth centres saw attendance in various programs reach 106 in Rimbey and 658 in Ponoka with rural youth making up 32 per cent of attendees in Rimbey and 22 per cent in Ponoka.

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