A place of choice for several youths in the area, the Eckville Recreation Board’s Youth Program renders a range of events and activities with a focus on personal growth.
“Our program’s main goal is to continue enhancing the overall health, well-being and engagement of the community by providing all youth of Eckville and surrounding areas with access to various recreational activities, especially through these Covid-19 times. We strive to provide a safe environment for youth to learn skills and experience positive self-lead activities with their peers, and form lifelong friendships,” said group coordinator Vanessa Buziak.
Baking, crafts, swimming, movie nights, visiting Lacombe Corn Maze, laser tagging, West Edmonton Mall trip, bowling, and board game and video game nights are some activities the group indulged in the past year.
Established in 2006, the program caters to youth from grades seven through 12. Throughout the school year, the program offers Youth Drop-in Night every Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Eckville Friendship Centre.
The youths are directly involved in the planning and organization of activities and events while adhering to all Covid-19 public health measures.
Unlike several organized youth sports that could get cost-prohibitive to many families, the Youth Program opens doors to everyone interested.
“Eckville is a small town, and as such does not have a lot to offer in terms of non-school or non-organized sports activities,” said Buziak, adding, “The great part about the youth program is that there are no membership fees. This ensures that the program is as inclusive as entirely possible.”
While the program offers a range of activities to choose from, youths are also welcome to “hang out and chat with friends or even do homework if they want.”
Youths also get to participate in monthly excursions to experience the greater community.
“These special event nights are always a great success, with outstanding attendance.”
Even though youths are required to pay for participation in the monthly excursions, the recreation board strives to fund youths who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend.
Planning is underway for the annual West Edmonton Mall trip, which by far has proven to be the most popular and well-attended event, said Buziak.
Buziak aims to offer a wide variety of activities for the youth to participate in.
“It is our biggest and most important goal to make sure that every youth night, whether planned or spontaneous, comes to fruition in the safest and most inclusive way possible.”
Those looking to join the group can reach out to Buziak via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Eckville Youth Night Facebook page.