New program seeks to develop strong community leaders

Every town needs a strong base of volunteers and service groups but many of those stalwart individuals are getting older.

Every town needs a strong base of volunteers and service groups but many of those stalwart individuals are getting older.

The Town of Ponoka has been chosen as one of 20 rural communities to take part in a leadership development program. Becoming a Community Leader is a new initiative designed to create pride in smaller communities, says David Tremblay, chairperson of Ponoka’s branch.

Residents are best suited to deal with problems that may arise and this 15-week online program is designed to give them important tools. Those who take the course should expect to spend approximately 15 minutes a day on the program.

The daily program could be longer depending on how much energy a person puts into it, explained Tremblay.

The course will be facilitated by Ian Hill, who designed the program, and it is free to everyone in Ponoka. He is coming to Ponoka Oct. 7 to promote the project and will be here for the official launch. Hill wants to speak with different community groups at different times, says Tremblay.

The purpose is to bring “any silos and facets of the community,” and educate them on ways to grow Ponoka.

“Those who are closest to the problem are best to solve them,” Tremblay added.

The course is open to everyone in the community and could be taken advantage of by church groups, businesses or service clubs. Tremblay feels many Ponoka groups can benefit from the course. He has also been in discussion with administration at Ponoka Secondary Campus.

“There’s a high school aspect of this,” said Tremblay.

His hope is to develop more community involvement and to gain a new generation of volunteers.

Once a week there is going to be a one-hour online session; three of those sessions are going to be live with Hill and participants will have the opportunity to ask questions via email, Twitter or chat methods. Tremblay estimates the entire program will take up 15 hours.

Jim Hamilton, of Hamilton’s IGA, has offered to pay all of his staff the time it takes to complete the course; if they finish the exercise, workers will be paid for the time. “It’s like a professional development.”

The community was presented with the pilot initiative at a discounted cost at $7,500 plug GST; the Town of Ponoka, Family and Community Support Services and Ponoka County purchased the program, which would normally cost a community approximately $30,000, explained Tremblay.