A ‘second family’ for over 400 young people.
On Monday 25 March, the members of the Rotary Club of Medicine Hat had the privilege of spending just under two hours at the Redcliff Youth Centre (RYC).
The Centre, established in 1990, is on Main Street, in Redcliff. It is a registered charity, and a ‘standalone’, not affiliated to any provincial or national body. It offers a variety of free educational and recreational programs to young people between the ages of 10 and 17 years.
The purpose of holding our Rotary noon meeting at the Centre was to see, ‘feel’, and learn more about this context for youth empowerment and development, to which we made a donation last year, for kitchen equipment.
We were warmly received and hosted by Executive Director Janae Ulrich, Sandra (Youth Support Worker) Hayden (a student), Chris (President of the RYC Board), and three other Board members, Carrie, Danielle and Gary.
What a worthwhile visit! We left the Centre with a better understanding of who they are and what they do, and with a huge appreciation for the quality of this context in which over 400 young people (on average), sign in for at least one activity, per month. Interestingly, about 70% of the 365 young people who are registered with the Centre, are male.
Most of these young people live in Redcliff, but 30% hail from Medicine Hat and a small percentage come from other parts of the Prairie Rose school district. They all attend school.
In this ‘second family’ context, which operates from a strengths-based perspective, the youth are able to relax, be themselves, play pool, make and eat lunches and dinners, connect with positive adult role models, join in a homework program, get help to put a resume together for employment purposes, participate in Teen Group Sessions with Medicine Hat Family Services, enjoy Emotional Support Animal Assisted therapy, and go on field trips to places of interest, including the Medicine Hat College.
Child and Youth Care Counselling (CYCC), Social Work and Nursing Clinical Students from the College attend the Redcliff Youth Centre as their practicum / practical study for hands on learning during their field of study.  Students participate in programs and services, helping to advocate for youth during the time spent with the agency.  CYCC, SW (2-3) students, and the Nursing Clinical Students (8-12) along with their instructor, attend the centre twice a week. The Nursing Students help to host the Annual Wellness Fair, where registered youth are able to obtain free new and gently used clothing, hygiene products, and community resources, while participating in a variety of wellness themed events, such as animal assisted therapy, yoga and team building exercises, all related to the “Needs Assessment” made by the nursing students during their time spent in the Redcliff community and placement agency.  
The staff, Board and volunteers are guided by the following core values and principles:
  • Mentoring, building healthy relationships
  • Inspiring leadership and developing active citizenship qualities, through volunteerism and engagement
  • Promoting and developing youth self-efficacy, building personal growth, and individual esteem
It was good to hear, during question and discussion time, that a fair amount of time is spent on helping the Centre members think about their futures, in terms of post-school education and future vocation.
The facility has undergone major renovations over the past year, costing $68,000. Home Depot Canada Foundation covered the cost AND Team Home Depot spent days at the Centre, doing the actual work. It looks great – an environment in which young people feel comfortable and respected.
Who supports the Redcliff Youth Centre, in addition to the Rotary Club of Medicine Hat? Home Depot Canada Foundation, United Way, Sun City Ford, Suntaira Growers, Servus Credit Union, CIBC, the Town of Redcliff, UFA, the Community Foundation, and others.
What are the biggest challenges? Recruiting Board members, parent participation, and finding money to cover operational costs.
But, as put forward by Janae, “We may not have it all, but together we have it all”. Such a positive, inclusive, message.
Another takeaway for all of us, is this:
Read more about this amazing Youth Development Centre - and how you can get involved - on their website: https://redcliffyouthcentre.com