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Youth Council Builds Confidence & Guides Programming at Saskatoon Community Centre

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Building Confidence to Become Leaders

Summer is a former member of the Youth Council at White Buffalo Youth Lodge in Saskatoon, where she now works as a youth worker herself. Participating in the Youth Council at White Buffalo Youth Lodge has given Summer and other youth the confidence and the skills to become leaders within their community.

While designing Right To Play programming, Community Mentors Wes and Amber recognized a need for programming that reached older youth.

“We wanted it to be more purposeful than just: ‘Hey, come hang out and do whatever activities we decide,’ so we ended up settling on the Youth Council, and they could guide White Buffalo through what kind of programs we offer, what the facility looks like, the future of what we look like… right away, we had quite a lot of interest,” Wes describes.

From there, the Youth Council took off. They embarked on various trips, from Calgary to Edmonton, to visit other youth centres, build connections, and to inspire ideas. Beyond travel, the youth have been exposed to real world skills, such as video recording and editing, podcast making, coding, interviewing practices and other problem-solving skills.

"I used to be such a shy person. And then, as soon as I joined the Youth Council, I feel like I opened up so much." - Summer
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Guided by Youth Voice

Wes describes, “It was a program guided by youth voice. It was kind of a mixture of things they had interest in and me finding a real-world application for their interests.”

The opportunities provided by the Youth Council have had a positive impact for participants like Summer.

Describing the experience, Summer says, “It changes you as a person, knowing all these people and having these connections and going places. I used to be such a shy person. And then, as soon as I joined the Youth Council, I feel like I opened up so much, and like, I can talk to people easier, I have more social skills. I have all these different skill sets for work, and also volunteer work, that can be put on a resume.”

After aging out of the Youth Council program, Summer has returned to White Buffalo Youth Lodge for her first paid position as a youth worker. Summer is looking forward to working with the Youth Council, which she describes as, “a nice full circle, because my cousin is still part of the Youth Leadership [program]. And plus, there's new members. So, I'm like, ‘hey guys, I used to be in the youth leadership, now I work here officially.’”

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Supporting Youth to Pursue Their Interests

Not only is Summer working at White Buffalo, but she is also attending the First Nations University to earn her degree in Social Work.

“I feel like [the Youth Council] has made things a lot easier. I used to get really nervous about it because there’s going to be people I don't know. It's like going into high school all over again. But no, now I don't feel that nervous anymore.” For Summer, community care is so important, and she hopes to be able to use her social work degree to serve and better her community.

At White Buffalo Youth Lodge, the Youth Council program is helping to build the confidence and the skills to support youth in pursuing their interests. Community Mentor, Wes, is proud that White Buffalo can be a place for youth to try new things for the first time in a safe space, allowing them room to make mistakes and grow, ultimately developing new interests and skills.

Wes recalls conversations he has had with youth when trying new things: “I’ve heard them say, ‘you can just do that?’ And a lot of, ‘I can do that…’ So much, especially for the kids we are working with, has felt out of reach, or felt like it’s not for them, that it’s for somebody else. So it’s being able to show them that’s not true, that you just need [to be given] the chance and be willing to take it when it shows up for you.”

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