Karen Buchanan, executive director of Change Maker’s Education Society on Aug. 24, stands next to youth outreach worker Alysha Haldane and Ryanne Reece, youth development worker, who is excited for the new youth centre project opening in Sept. (Photo: Norman Galimski/The Northern View)

Change Makers to open new youth centre in Prince Rupert

K’oomtk to offer developmental programs, resources and a safe space

Under the umbrella of Change Makers’ Education Society, a new development centre will open its doors to Prince Rupert youth with the assistance of a $75,000 provincial grant.

The new centre, named K’oomtk, — which means hope in Sm’algyax — will be a drop-in space for young adults and teens, opening at the Ocean Centre Mall in September.

K’oomtk will offer developmental programs for literacy and computer skills to enhance learning. It will be a place of access where youth can become involved with the community and host social activities, Karen Buchanan, executive director of Change Maker’s Education Society, said on Aug. 24.

The idea behind the centre is to provide a safe space for local young people who don’t have safety or support in their daily lives and can’t successfully focus on or access programming.

“We wanted to create a safe place for them to be able to go to that has some resources they’re able to use so they can achieve their dreams … so they have a sense of hope and belonging in our community.”

Funding for the centre’s programming comes from the Civil Forfeiture Crime Prevention and Remediation Grant — a one-time provincial grant that comes from the proceeds of unlawful activity regarding property.

“This project will connect youth with cultural mentors and meaningful recreational activities. The program will foster deeper community connections and friendships, develop a sense of pride and empower youth to share their learning and skills with the community,” the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General stated in a May funding announcement.

Jeremy Janz, principal of Pacific Coast Secondary School, also located in the mall, said K’oomtk is something the school is certainly interested in becoming involved with.

“I think any type of youth engagement right now, in Prince Rupert, is going to be beneficial to all youth,” He said. “There actually isn’t a lot in this city for youth. So, anything that we can do to facilitate healthy interactions is something that is certainly valuable.”

Buchanan said the centre will be open from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., allowing access to students after school hours. Students can drop in and get help with homework or take part in activities at their leisure.

K’oomtk will be staffed starting Sept. 1st and will officially open on Sept. 8th to coincide with International Literacy Day.

Norman Galimski | Journalist
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