City needs to demonstrate to youth that they are valuable part of the community

"Extensive research shows that teens thrive when they are valued, empowered, and supported in their communities."

Just in case the dice don’t roll in my favour and I miss a voice in the survey, here’s one more opinion about the current Skate Park situation:

1. The Skate Park is a good idea. Build it, already!

2. The Skate Park survey is a bad idea.  It only reinforces the impression of poor faith and foot-dragging, even for those (like me) who try to give Council the benefit of the doubt.

There is an impressive determination among local youth that has persevered despite having cold water poured endlessly on their efforts. Supporters have presented the case for a Skate Park repeatedly, responsibly, respectfully, and resourcefully. Early advocates who began this campaign as teenagers are now in their twenties, and still there is no Skate Park. The latest survey stinks of being an excuse by our elected officials to see if this project can be pushed off the agenda yet again.

The City of Trail is effectively disenfranchising young people in this town. The impact reaches beyond the few visible youths on the Skate Park committee: hundreds of Trail teenagers are getting the message that the requests, efforts and contributions of their peers are repeatedly being bumped to the bottom of the list.  Disempowered youths become disengaged adults – is this what we want?  No, but it’s where we’re going.

Extensive research shows that teens thrive when they are valued, empowered, and supported in their communities.  What happens in Trail?

·  A park is designed “skateboard-proof.”

·  Stray soccer balls are seen as a nuisance problem.

· A youth task force is set unprecedented goals, and then loses grant money when adults delay.

· At a free Youth Action Summit (Oct 2014, Nelson), Trail had no youth representation.

· Trail’s spring newsletter makes no reference to a Skate Park (benefit: 100’s), but half a page for the Ambassador Program (benefit: 3).

These are discouraging examples of how Trail fails to value / empower / support its youth.  What message do our young people take with them into adulthood?

As a parent of two adolescents – neither of whom rides a skateboard — I am angry that the Skate Park has not yet broken ground.   Rightly or not, I get the message that young people have less value to this City than downtown signage and airport expansion.   Do I want to see a pedestrian bridge?   A new library?   A revitalized downtown?  Absolutely!  But only after the efforts and needs of local youth are given the priority, and results, they deserve.

So enough with the delays, surveys, studies, and consultations. Let’s build the Skate Park, already!

The stakes are too high not to: We risk losing our youth – not because they don’t have a Skate Park, but because the community doesn’t show our kids they’re worth it.

Jennifer Sirges

Trail

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