Isabella Pennell enjoys helping provide her fellow youth with positive ways to spend their free time.
Now she hopes a financial shot in the arm from the Corner Brook Royals will help, too.
Pennell, 16, is one of around 10 teens who volunteer with the Humber Arm South Youth Group’s organizing committee.
The group was formed by parents a year ago as a way to ensure the town’s junior and high school-aged children were spending their time constructively. The group started out by just opening up the community hall on Friday nights so the young people would have somewhere to hang out.
Parents and others donated things like ping pong and pool tables, gaming devices and television sets. The kids would then entertain themselves with games, movies and music.
In January, the program expanded to opening up the gymnasium at St. Peter’s Academy for sports nights for three hours every Saturday. The school’s sports equipment was locked up, so the group had to provide their own.
Up until the program took a break for the summer, there have also been a series of educational presentations from groups such as the Bay of Islands Search and Rescue Team, the Community Mental Health Initiative, the town’s volunteer fire department and so on.
In a small town like Humber Arm South, there’s not much to do. She said having somewhere to go and things to do is better than just standing around outside the community hall.
“I like hanging out with people and making sure nobody is getting into trouble,” said Pennell, explaining why she got involved. “Knowing what they’re doing makes me feel better.”
The program seems to have proven successful. On average, there are around 30 kids per session and 60 or more are involved overall.
Pennell said it was nice of the town’s adults to take the initiative to do something for the town’s youth.
“They know what can happen if they don’t do stuff like this to get all the kids together,” she said.
Pennell also appreciates the gesture of the Royals. The senior hockey team has donated $2,000 to the youth group as part of $25,000 the team has distributed to 19 minor sports and youth organizations in the Bay of Islands area this year.
This was the second year the Royals have made this sort of charitable gesture to local groups. Last year, they handed out $30,000 to 17 groups.
The Humber Arm South Youth Group only came into being after the Royals gave out money last year.
Crista O’Connell, one of the adults on the youth group committee, said the program offers a structured environment and it’s the youth themselves who decide on what activities they wish to pursue.
There are 10 older kids like Pennell who have taken on supervisory roles, including helping set up activities and cleaning up afterwards.
Through their contributions, these students are earning the volunteer credit hours they require for high school.
“We let them be in charge and they’re a big part of what we do,” said O’Connell. “They’re the ones who are organizing. We’re just a group of adults directing some older teenagers.”
O’Connell was excited to find out the group was going to be a recipient of the hockey team’s generosity this year. The group has received a couple of relatively small cash donations, but it has mostly been working on in-kind contributions.
“That, for us, is like winning the lottery because we haven’t had access to funds like that,” said O’Connell.
The group will be having a meeting to discuss how to best invest the donation from the Royals. O’Connell said it will likely be spent on purchasing some much-needed sports equipment for the group’s gymnasium sessions.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get things the kids have been asking for,” said O’Connell. “We’ll have to figure out what will be the best bang for our buck. We’re going to use this money in the best possible way and be as frugal as we can.
After the summer hiatus, the youth group will start up again later in September, once the kids have settled back into their school routines.
This is how the Corner Brook Royals dispersed the $25,000 they made available to minor sports and youth organizations this year:
- Blow Me Down Biathlon Club: $1,500
- Blomidon Junior Golf: $1,500
- Marble Mountain Alpine Race Team: $1,500
- Corner Brook Minor Soccer Association: $1,500
- Corner Brook Curling Association: $1,500
- Community Youth Network Lark/York Harbour $1,500
- Corner Brook Reflections: $1,000
- Western Hawks Basketball: $1,000
- Saltos Gymnastics: $1,000
- Town of Meadows: $1,500
- Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association: $1,000
- Western Wolves Minor Basketball: $1,000
- Humber Arm South Youth Group: $2,000
- Special Olympics, Corner Brook: $1,000
- Canada Games ladies curling team: $500
- Corner Brook Baseball Association: $1,500
- Silver Blades Figure Skating Club: $1,500
- Town of Gillams: $2,000
- Corner Brook Rapids Swim Club: $1,000
Source: Corner Brook Royals