In the past, many teens in St. Paul have felt that they have been underrepresented by the facilities and events that the town has to offer.
The St. Paul Youth Council (SPYC) is seeking to solve that problem.
Their goal is to host one activity specifically for teens in grades 7-12 every month of the school year.
For the Council, and to those who attend, the events are a critical undertaking.
“Before SPYC, there weren’t a lot of activities or events taking place geared towards the youth in our community,” said Faithe Hunter, a member of SPYC.
“There were lots that you either had to pay for or that weren’t very interesting to people our age, but SPYC has changed that. Just being part of it we have had a chance to have our say in everything.”
Tianna Tanasichuk, another member of the SPYC, agrees, saying: “Not only was there a lack of activities for youth, there just weren’t many opportunities for youth to have our voice heard.”
The Council is comprised of teens in and around St. Paul, as well as representatives from St. Paul FCSS and Town Council.
They meet regularly to plan and carry out a wide variety of activities.
Previously, SPYC has hosted a Halloween Teen Dance, gym and activity nights, and has volunteered to help at other events in St. Paul.
“It’s an opportunity to give back to the community, and to give youth a voice within St. Paul,” says SPYC Chair Kenton Cardinal. “It’s also good for scholarship applications, volunteer opportunities, and it looks great on résumés.”
Lynn Smid, who sits on the Council as the FCSS representative, says that public feedback to SPYC’s events and volunteer efforts has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We have heard from schools and local businesses who partner with us, and they’ve been very excited to see that there has been real tangible youth involvement in these events; planning and participating. And SPYC doesn’t just plan activities for youth; this group also has volunteered for other various town events like Shiverfest, or Canada Day, or the Safe and Sweet Halloween with FCSS last year,” said Smid.
“People see that and are excited that youth are giving of their time and participating. They are enjoying it and like being together.”
Through their hard work, SPYC looks to benefit to St. Paul as a whole, not just to its youth.
Town Councillor Nathan Taylor works closely with SPYC and has high praise for all they do.
“The FCSS here in town does a great job of creating events catered to young children and families but there has definitely been an absence of events for teens, just like Faithe and Tianna said,” said Taylor.
“And, as a member of Council who wants the best for all of our residents, it’s so much easier for our youth to come together and say ‘this is what we want to do’ rather than having a bunch of older people in a meeting saying ‘what do you think the youth would like to do? Do you think they’d like that?’
“The empowerment that the youth gain by hosting events themselves, and the leadership skills they gain has all been fantastic.”
With some major activities behind them, SPYC is now looking ahead to the future.
The council will host a Valentine’s Dance on Friday, Feb. 15 at the Centennial Senior Citizen Centre.
In March they have a skating or sledding night planned, along with laser tag later in the spring.
They are also still exploring other ideas, including a paint night or a jumbo-sized games night.
For the latest on all of the activities that SPYC is planning, you can follow them on Instagram at @spyc2018_19.