The world can be a chaotic place, especially for teenagers trying to navigate the meaning and purpose of life, but a local group is trying to bring peace.
With a motivation to guide young adults in an environment they feel most comfortable, Incline Industries in partnership with Central Alberta Youth Unlimited (CAYU) has introduced a unique youth program, Boards, Burgers, and Bibles, merging Bible studies with skateboarding, followed by a shared meal, for local boys between the ages 12 and 18.
“I want to show these kids that you don’t have to get really boring and become a Bible thumper to know God, and understand that there is more to life than just what’s in front of them,” said Devon Mitchell, a youth engagement worker at Incline Industries.
“Although it is a faith-based, Christian-based program, my goal isn’t for them to be converted to Christianity. My goal is just to have them know that there are adults that care about them and just to help guide them through those tough choices in their lives through mutual interests, which is skateboarding,” he added.
“It’s interesting for sure because it’s definitely counter-culture and almost anti-Christian,” said Mitchell, adding, “A lot of times people that are the most outgoing in terms of their opinions and even negativity, which there is a lot of that in skateboarding, are actually the ones that are searching the most.”
Growing up as a skateboarding and snowboarding enthusiast, Mitchell said he was a rebellious teen who also played in punk rock bands. “Into my 20’s I ended up making some really bad choices. Basically, drug addiction and stuff like that, and it ended up with me being clinically depressed.”
While admitted to a hospital, Mitchell stumbled across a Bible. He initially started reading it as a historical record, but soon realized the burst of hope that swept across his mind as he read along.
“At the end of the day, I just really want people to live out of love and not fear. For me, the way that I found to do that is through what I believe is the Holy Spirit, and I’m just trying to help kids find that well of love for themselves and for others,” said Mitchell.
The group held its first session Oct. 14. Mitchell said their sessions are practical and fun. He shared that it provides the boys a safe space to open up to an adult who is willing to understand their unique situations and guide them through their challenges. This could be anything including assisting the boys with their personal lives, homework, resume building, referrals to professional counseling services, or just hearing them out to offer advice with any concerns.
The program hosted by two not-for-profit organizations is run solely on community donations. Mitchell said while following all safety precautions, they are currently allowed to serve food to individuals under the age of 18, given there is parental consent, and the food is served in disposable utensils.
For the latest updates and information on how to register, see Incline Industries’ Facebook page at www.facebook.com/inclineindustries. The program runs from Wednesday to Friday from 3:30 to 10 p.m., and on Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m.
“You could just come, hang out and see if you like the space,” said Mitchell, adding, “Let’s have a meal together and chat about what’s going on in your lives and how we can help you.”
The Boards and Bibles girls group meets on Tuesdays, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. This program is facilitated by Nicola Mannerfeldt and Jordie Barg. For more information visit Incline Industries Facebook page, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.