Youth play active role in Summerland

Summerland group provide youth opportunity to get involved in their community, helping to lower the risk of crime

Small town and nothing to do, it’s not a new complaint from youth.

One group in Summerland is focusing on relieving that boredom by providing youth with opportunities to get involved in their community, and by doing so they also have help prevent crime.

Summerland Asset Development Initiative was asked to present at the B.C. Crime Prevention Symposium in Burnaby earlier this month and speak about how they use asset building to help reduce criminal activity in Summerland.

“I think that SADI has been so successful in Summerland because we are such a small town. There’s not much to do here and we finally have a place to interact with each other and people who are there for us no matter what,” said 15-year-old Haley Smed, a youth representative for SADI who spoke at the symposium. “The whole community has felt the impact it’s made and it has become one of the most important places in our community. It has made the youth more morally responsible in ways that we don’t even realize.”

SADI provides activities, resources and support for Summerland youth and families. The development assets are characteristics that young people need to develop positive values and become more caring and responsible. The more assets they have, SADI believes the less likely they are to engage in high-risk behaviours.

“It has made an impact with the youth in Summerland by giving them a place to go and people to talk to when they feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to or a place to call their own. It has given us a better reputation in our community and the adults have more respect and understanding for who we are and what we believe in,” said Smed.

One of the 40 development assets they promote is constructive use of time. SADI provides youth with the opportunity to develop leadership skills and make positive connections through volunteering initiatives like baking muffins for the school breakfast club, working side-by-side with seniors on woodworking projects and baking projects to donate to Christmas hampers.

“The more youth are involved, the more they will respect the community and won’t want to damage the community. The more assets youth have the more respect they have for themselves and aspire to reach for higher goals and do something with their lives,” said Laceydawn Loepkpy, youth activities co-ordinator at SADI.

RCMP Sgt. Mona Kauffeld said the program has been a very positive influence on the community.

“I think anytime you keep kids active and engaged with things to do on their spare time you are going to find you have kids that are busy, not out on the streets and not coming up with mischief, vandalism or ideas that are not good. This program gives them a place to go, good role models and Summerland is very lucky to have such a successful program,” said Kauffeld.