Changing times at Kimberley’s Youth Centre

New board chair says Sparks Youth Centre in great shape.

The history of the Spark Youth Centre — the longest serving in British Columbia — is that of a continuous struggle for sustainability and a lot of good work on behalf of Kimberley’s youth.

It has always been difficult to bring in enough funding to pay staff and utilities on the building, but every year the Centre manages to keep its doors open and programming for youth alive.

However, things are looking very positive right now, says new Board Chair Joshua Lockhart. He feels that the Centre is in a good position. It’s attracting more community support than ever before, and even more importantly, it’s attracting youth.

“Executive Director Bev Middlebrook reports more donations from the community than ever before,” he said. “I think there is better budgeting, better management and sprucing up the building has really helped as well. The community is using the space for events and can see what a positive place it is.”

Demographics are changing a bit, Lockhart says.

“We have had a shift. You would think that the Centre would mainly have youth aged 14 to 18, but we are seeing a lot of youth from McKim, 11 to 13-year olds, coming after school.”

Many of the youth finding their way to the centre after school are definitely in need of support, he says, but not all of them.

“It’s quite mixed actually. Some of the youth are just looking for something to do after school.

“It’s a friendly, welcoming place to be during those hours. We are seeing about a dozen youth every day and had about 30 at our Halloween party last week.

Having assumed the position of Board chair, Lockhart says his goals are simply to continue to build the relationship with the community, and continue with creative programming for the youth the centre serves.

“We want to keep showing the community it’s a positive, safe environment. And we’ll let Bev steer the ship. She has a very good grasp on what works at the centre, so we’ll let her do her thing.”