Governor General to address youth forum in Penticton

Pentictonites will have a rare chance to interact with Canada’s Governor General Monday.

Pentictonites will have a rare chance to interact with Canada’s Governor General Monday, when he visits the city to support a new youth initiative.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston is addressing a forum with the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan and the United Way, where they are presenting the results of a collaboration with youth in the community and a new program.

“It’s absolutely amazing that the Right Honourable David Johnston will be joining us for this important community discussion,” said Aaron McRann, executive director of the CFSO, adding that there are two reasons the Governor General has chosen to attend.

“One is that he really believes in collaboration between organizations that we are demonstrating,” said McRann, adding that youth and families, and trying to find better ways to support them, is also one of the Governor General’s goals, one of the three pillars of Johnston’s vision for a “smart and caring” nation.

“So the whole concept appealed to him very directly. He will be speaking, giving closing comments at the forum,” said McRann. “We are very excited to launch this unique youth program.”

The forum is a milestone on a path that started about a year ago, when the United Way and the CFSO both received bequests from the estate of Rohan Crompton-Bell.

Crompton-Bell wanted to support youth, especially regarding self-esteem issues, explained McRann. Since the two organizations already had ties, McRann said they decided to get together and plan how to maximize the gift.

“Our partnership between the Community Foundation and the United Way is a wonderful example of how donors can make immediate impact and leave a sustainable legacy for Penticton,” explained Marla O’Brien, executive director of the United Way. “We have consistently heard that youth are an underserved group in this region and we look forward to addressing the issue with proceeds from the bequest.”

“Between discussions between ourselves and the executrix of the estate we decided to focus on defining first the needs of the youth in our community, recognizing that a lot of the services provided in our community — events and health services — are focused on older populations,” said McRann.

The first step was to hire a researcher who spent time with youth in the community as well as service providers, trying to identify what the real needs are.

“That report has been completed and we will be presenting the findings of the report on Monday. There is going to be more that needs to be done after that,” said McRann. “Where we go from there starts on Monday at this public forum. We will be engaging in a conversation with those at the forum about what comes next.”

After the forum, according to McRann, the first step is to establish a community committee.

“That committee will sink their teeth into what should happen first,” he said. “The research report clearly indicates what direction we need to go, with three specific goals for outcomes. But how we get there and which one comes first requires more discussion.”

The public forum runs from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. where the youth project will be announced and an open discussion will follow. After the forum there is a lunch with Gov. Gen. Johnston. The forum is free to attend and tickets for the lunch are $30 inclusive. Reservations are required to attend this event.  Please RSVP by contacting the Community Foundation office at 250-493-9311 or admin@cfso.net.