Boys and Girls club begins expansion fundraising

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Cochrane youth are seeking community support for a potential teen-only hang out caf
é.

Dubbed the CLUB, it is an initiative set in motion by the Boys and Girls Club of Cochrane and Area (BGCCA) to combat teen mental health issues and fill a growing niche in town.

“Teens need a space to go to just hang out during the critical hours – being after school hours – from 2 to 6 .p.m., ” said Jill Bilodeau, executive director. “They need a safe place to go hang out, be themselves and establish some friendships and also have good role models there such as our youth workers. ”

The CLUB is hoped to be located as close to the existing Boys and Girls Club building as possible on Fifth Avenue, though a location has not been officially secured.

Bilodeau estimates the first year of operation costs might be close to $75,000. The BGCCA has received a generous initial donation and is currently seeking community support for fundraising through a GoFundMe page to raise $50,000.

“The youth have expressed they’re looking for a space that mimics a coffee house. So, little booths and bistro tables and that sort of thing, ” Bilodeau said.

The space will also incorporate arcade games, foosball and pool tables, a kitchen for the Junior Chef program and private office spaces for support workers.

“Generally, we feed the youth, so if they come hungry we will provide them a healthy snack, ” Bilodeau said. “We’re also hoping to have a music sort of a club DJ night atmosphere. As well as a space for tutoring and homework, an arts corner.

For the summer months, Bilodeau said the CLUB might look into facilitating day trips to laser tag, the Calgary Zoo, or hikes.

Ryann Churla, communication assistant, said the BGCCA have identified a need for a space exclusively for teens since many programs in existence are either catered to younger children or adults.

“Teens are feeling really bored, they don’t feel like there’s anything for them to do. There’s lots for young kids, lots for adults here, but there isn’t anything in the heart of the community for them, ” Churla said.

In the 2017 Cochrane Cares survey, a youth space was a key theme that emerged with 42 per cent of youth responding they felt lonely “Sometimes ” or “Always. ” In the survey, youth indicated their friends as their number one support network in times of stress after their families.

“Boys and Girls Club wanted to create a space that is exclusively for teens that kind of met all their needs, provided them with all the great resources and programs offered at the Boys and Girls Club but having their own space makes it very unique and special and catered to them. ”

For further information, contact Ryann Churla at the Boys and Girls Club at rchurla@bgccochrane.ca or phone (403) 981-2020 ext. 226.

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Amy Tucker

Amy is a news reporter with the Cochrane Eagle covering everything from fire, crime and education to Morley events. Her previous career highlights include producing a mini documentary in India and coproducing a podcast spotlighting the tricky mixture of love and age. Amy has a degree in journalism and has tendencies to wander. When she's not writing the news, she spends her spare time swimming, dreaming about her next adventure and thinking about ways that she can make the planet a little greener.