According to a new study, there are diverse options for activities and groups for young people in Sooke, but many youth feel disconnected and unrepresented.
The study, which interviewed 238 youths and youth service providers, was released on March 22, found young people are often just “hanging out” in town or gaming in isolation.
The Sooke Region Communities Health Network (SRCHN) commissioned the youth program feasibility study last fall to determine what programming would meet youth needs at a proposed elders centre on Lot A.
The complex will include at least 76 affordable housing rental units for individuals 55 plus and an elder’s centre on the ground floor for socializing, recreation, information resources, and enrichment. Space would be shared with young people and seniors.
“There were lots of ideas from youth in terms of space for arts, life skills, health and recreation,” Mary Dunn, president of SRCHN, told district council. “They also seemed excited about doing intergenerational programming.”
One notable deficiency in Sooke is the lack of mental health services for youth, the study found.
Youth also felt there needed to be a variety of recreation opportunities across the district.
Youth service providers in Sooke are interested in supporting a youth program with part-time staffing and structural support. Still, no organizations can offer financial support, the study found.
The youth service providers were optimistic about an intergenerational program and the varied ways it could support connections with youth and older adults, Dunn said.
“One of the biggest things that stands out to me is the youth willingness to engage and make some changes,” Coun. Al Beddows said.
The next step for the project is to go back to the youth service providers to encourage them to move the project forward.
“We need to ask who can step up and coordinate youth activities across Sooke, including the elder centre,” Dunn said.
“Even if space is available, somebody needs to coordinate it. Otherwise, it’s going to fail.”