by Dr. Rouba Fattal & Pat Freel
Lockdowns from COVID-19 have left their lingering effects on youth in Kanata South. Tweens and teenagers were deprived of important socializing skills and opportunities to connect with their communities in order to avoid getting sick. In light of this, I believe it is very important for the next councillor of Kanata South to work diligently supporting youth by improving existing programs and even creating new ones that build bridges between generations.
On June 7th, I attended a community forum hosted by the WOCRC where we reviewed the results of a survey that indicated mental health and educational gaps were of the most interest to Kanata South residents. Mentioned was petty crime being on the increase most likely because youth have nothing better to do - there are no after-school programs offered to keep them engaged and make them feel valued. One question we tried to address was "how can we help make youth feel part of their communities?"
I hope to mobilize the community in a way that we can work together to fundraise in areas that are more underserviced by perhaps purchasing of old video game equipment, pool tables and other recreational activities to help create and foster space for youth to socialize under the supervision of tutors (or willing parent volunteers and retired seniors).
As your councillor for Kanata-South, I want to advocate for more accessible programs for youth in community centers by extending hours of operation and by partnering with the many post-secondary institutions in Ottawa to help provide these programs for our youth.
I believe that the city can collaborate with educational bodies in Ottawa to offer programs whereby post-secondary students are able to tutor and mentor youth in the area who may be unable to afford after school programs or tutors. This added supervision can also create an opportunity for more pick-up sports activities in our community centers, such as volleyball, floor hockey and basketball.
There would be minimal to no cost to the city by working to make this part of the education curriculum for a bachelors of education, health sciences or offering the opportunity to interested students. Included could be a recruitment for program supervisors to grade 11/12 in local highschools.
I see my city council office acting as a hub for volunteer activities for youth engagement. I want to connect students and youth to opportunities for them to participate in community activities, such as ice rink maintenance in the winter, community clean up events and community gardening. High school students needing 40 hours of community service may find this an interesting fit.
In addition, I believe strongly in establishing a Youth Council in Kanata South. Partnering with high-school student councils to be included in decision making and that city council cares about the concerns and ideas youth have. I would be interested in hearing young opinions on upgrading the skateboard park in Bridlewood and helping improve the mountain biking trail infrastructure in Kanata-South. Perhaps even something simple as a team of ‘scouts’ in the summer to help the city identify crumbling infrastructure.
Partnering with post-secondary institutions and with student councils by forming a Kanata-South Youth Council, can create wonderful opportunities to not only educate the city on the needs of the youth but help educate youth on the impact they can have as young adults.
Having undergraduate students act as tutors and mentors for these programs can help prepare youth for the challenges and opportunities that await them and foster relationships that can last them a lifetime.
As your next city councillor for Kanata South, I will work tirelessly to make Kanata-South a place where youth thrive and feel valued and appreciated.