The Lloydminster Youth Council (LYC) is an excellent example of young people who are committed to making a difference in their community and empowering other youth in the process. Each fall students from Lloydminster have an opportunity to apply to serve on the LYC. Applicants are interviewed, selected and officially sworn in during a formal ceremony. Youth were accepted by their peers based on their commitment to be changemakers within their community! The LYC is run and organized by Youth!
The Youth Council was established in March of 2015 by a group of adult allies who wanted to support and create opportunities for the youth in Lloydminster. The LYC is governed by Steering Committee Members from across the community and a Coordinator (or two) are appointed to help guide the youth. Our founding Steering Committee consisted of Lorelee Marin, Jason Whiting, Jessie Mann, Grant Kirzinger, Craig Torry and Keyara Grassl. While the LYC is assisted by adults and mentors in the community it is the youth who really get to dive into work and initiatives that are important to them.
What makes the Youth Council a success? Youth are empowered to plan events that are attractive to them. They make the decisions and handle all details of the LYC and the adult mentors only serve to support and guide. They identify events that they know their peers will want to participate in. They ensure that events are free or low-cost, and they provide food, gift cards or door prizes to help encourage attendance. The Council aims to do regular events, activities or host campaigns on initiatives that are important to them. Whether it is hosting a talent show in the park or running a Government funded youth forum, these youth undertake a gamut of opportunities to develop youth.
One very notable campaign in November of 2016 was #180ALERT, a series of drug awareness initiatives for City of Lloydminster Youth. The first initiative was hosting a forum on drugs. Presenters spoke about the negative effects of drug and alcohol use and engaged in conversation with about fifty youth participants. After the forum, the LYC created a drug awareness video. The youth planned, organized, and starred in the video about a teen who pressures a peer to take pills to deal with everyday pressures. The Public Service Announcement video had over 25,000 hits on Social Media/YouTube and received attention from the office of former Premiers Rachel Notley and Brad Wall who kindly wrote letters of recognition to the LYC.
The youth worked with Alberta Health Services to use the video and incorporate it into lesson planning for schools across Alberta. In 2017 Yorkton Film Fest also recognized their work and encouraged them to create another full feature video on diversity. “The Tie that Binds” won second place at the film fest that marked Canada’s 150th anniversary and showcased Canada’s diversity. Over the years the Youth Council has hosted large Valentine’s Day dances, Pool Parties, Santa Skates, Christmas activities, and even an Amazing Race event called Border Dash!
Other memorable events the Council planned have consisted of talent shows, “A Night at the Museum” for younger children, and the yearly Pecha Kucha event. Sometimes events and public service announcements take a back seat while LYC tackles policy! One of the youth worked with Lloyd Flavour Gone! to have flavoured tobacco banned in Alberta. They were successful and part of world precedent setting legislation. LYC members presented to the City Council and provided a youth perspective and recommendations on the legalization of Cannabis and retail sales in Lloydminster. LYC members serve on community boards and take part in activities like MLA for a Day Alberta, Youth Parliament Canada, and even spent a day working alongside the Mayor!
Thanks to the generous financial support from the 100 Men Chapter the LYC launched their Paint the Town Positive campaign! The main goal of the campaign is to make the City of Lloydminster an even better place to love and grow. Their acts of kindness include, but are not limited to, bringing meals to families in need, acknowledging special people with treats, visiting with seniors, cleaning after meals at a senior’s residence, hosting birthday parties, supporting local businesses and shoveling snow. From their experiences in the campaign, LYC youth realized that these seemingly small gestures can make a significant difference in the lives of the people they are connecting with. From the video LYC made about the campaign, a youth described the campaign aptly by stating, “When you’re painting you’re spreading color around canvas or paper or a wall or whatever. So I think Painting the Town Positive is spreading positivity around Lloydminster anywhere you can. Painting a bigger picture around town and changing our community.” LYC youth acknowledged that by engaging in the activities planned in the campaign, they became a closer and more cohesive as a group.
The youth who are involved with LYC have expressed many benefits from their experience. They have more confidence in public speaking to larger crowds and adults. They recognize the positive experiences and how that will impact their ability to access education and employment opportunities they may not have had in the past. Lifelong friendships have been made with people they may not have interacted with before. The Youth Council has helped to shape their values, it has empowered the youth, led to growth in ability, confidence, and passion. It has promoted a “let’s fix that” attitude in many of the youth. “Youth who leave the council carry a desire to make change and help people”.