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Youth Building Positive Life Skills Through Relationships

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In Dauphin, Manitoba, Indigenous youth have taken a leadership role to create free programming for kids to build confidence, community and gain new skills. The Dauphin Friendship Center is entering their fifth year of partnership with Right to Play, and are focused on running programs around relationship-building in youth.

In a community where resources for youth are limited, two Junior Community Mentors were hired last fall and took action into their own hands to make a change. Mairen and Jess, each age 16 when hired, actively stepped into their newly created roles to develop and run online programs during lockdown and a free summer camp for kids in their community. The day camp this year had weekly themes and the two teens planned a gameshow week to kick off the summer, which included games and activities related to Jeopardy, Survivor, the Amazing Race, and more!

“Camp was great! It taught the kids to work as a team, and it gets them competitive in a good way. The cheering was very loud, they were so excited!” – Mairen, 16.
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The program was a hit and a full week of fun. The campers from Dauphin enjoyed the outdoors, faced different challenges, and learned new skills. On top of this, participants built a sense of community and made valuable friendships. Electra, 12, explained, “it was very fun because the counselors are young and close to my age”. Because of this, Electra was able to connect to the program and enjoy her time more. Connor, 13, agreed, and expressed that his favourite part was “making new friends”.

The program made connections for not only the participants but for the youth leaders, Jess and Mairen. “Since the program, I can see that I’ve become more responsible. I learned how to shop for myself and others, and how to be in charge and care for other people", explained Mairen. They shared that taking on a leadership role in the PLAY program has helped give them life skills, independence, and helped them prepare for life after high school. Mairen mentioned that now she feels ready to apply for post-secondary education and get ready for her next stage of life.

“I feel like a more sociable person, and I am more confident” – Jess
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Not only did this program provide valuable skills development, but it also built a sense of community and belonging which contributes to youth mental health overall. Jess describes how she has become a more sociable, confident person, and how she and Mairen each learned to work well together. Mairen explained “I learned to trust my instincts and that working with a friend makes the job much easier!”

We’re excited to see what these two young leaders come up with next.