Fall start up for volunteer centre youth programs

By Mable Hastings
Fall start up for volunteer centre youth programs
SADD Leadership group 2020 (Photo : Courtesy)

With many changes in programming, the Missisquoi North Volunteer Centre (CABMN) re-opened its doors to youth this past Saturday, October 3 at the Youth Centre located at 282 Principale in Mansonville.
CABMN youth programs have operated for close to forty years now, with an average of 5-8 weekly programs for youth ranging in ages from 5 to 20+. This year due to the Covid pandemic, the programs have been limited to two on a trial basis to assess the situation and its security and as time unfolds, more programs may be added.
“Today we held our first SADD/Leadership meeting (post lock down) and it went really well,” said Ethan Ball, who shares the coordination and animation of the CABMN youth programs with Eleanor Cote.
“Youth programs are not seen as essential services and the fact that we have been apart for seven months and with the Covid pandemic far from over, it was extremely important to explain to the youth, the necessity of adopting safety measures,” shared Ball.
All youth wear masks until they are seated in the building or when moving around. When entering the building the name of each youth, their contact information and health questions are asked. The temperature of all who enter the building is taken, hands are sanitized and each youth and staff are given a task to perform throughout the day to keep surfaces, equipment and hands disinfected. Numbers in the groups have been limited to allow for physical distancing at meeting and activity stations between all youth when masks are not required.
The 12 youth who gathered for the first Saturday group were quickly implicated in creating the plan for the coming weeks of activities, projects and events with all remaining conscious to the limitations and requirements of safety for all during the pandemic. Many ideas were exchanged and included: the creation of new group sweatshirts, increased visibility on social media, awareness activities, in house fun with reduced numbers, safety measures and more….
It is unknown when the Government directives might change and the groups be forced to shut down but in the meantime, the youth strive to make new memories, share in conversation and build connections with others in this very strange reality in which we are all living.
“I think they grasped the whole reality better than we do,” said Ball. “My co-worker, Eleanor and I worked really hard at getting some youth back in the building. We are going to work at accommodating other groups for the younger youth this week through a new partially “outdoor” program that celebrates farming while implicating the youth in tending animals and experiencing working together in a hobby farm setting,” he added.
Cote is a horse owner and enthusiast who has operated riding camps for youth in the past and Ball has found a love for raising pigs, so the two plan to share their passion with elementary aged children with this completely new program idea.
“On Saturday we were with the youth from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” shared Ball. “It was really nice at the end of the day for Eleanor and me to reflect upon our time with the youth and be left with the sentiment that even though they’d just left, we missed them already,” said Ball. “We work with an amazing group of youth!”
For more information about the regular weekly youth programs of the CABMN and updates on Covid adjusted programming visit: www.cabmn.org and sign up for the organization’s weekly newsletter. To contact the Youth Centre call: 450-292-4886 or email Eleanor Cote at e.cote@cabmn.org or Ethan Ball at e.ball@cabmn.org

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