Parksville High School Students Present Youth Center Proposal to City Council – Parksville Qualicum Beach News

Some high school students in Parksville are asking the city to consider building a youth center.

Five students from Ballenas Secondary School presented a plan for a proposed center to the June 20 regular council meeting that they hope will create a safe and inclusive space for young people, offering affordable meals, exercise, learning spaces and support for mental and physical health.

The group of 11th graders, consisting of Grace Dyck, Sofia Shaw, Karissa Hargreaves, Shirley Craig and Jenna Chomolok, said nearly all Ballenas graduates plan to leave the district after high school, in part because they believe that there is a lack of support for young people in the neighborhood.

“The whole community benefits from the upliftment of our young people,” said Dyck, who mentioned that the student presenters live in Parksville, Errington and Nanoose. “If we nurture the talents and passions of young people, while providing them with a safe and secure space to eat, study and be themselves, they are more likely to stay.

The students pointed to a May 21 PQB News online poll, which found 76% support for the idea, as well as a petition they circulated online and in person, which garnered 15 digital signatures and 95 physical signatures.

The group even came up with a floor plan for a proposed building. The first floor includes a cafe, gym, office, gender-neutral toilets and vending machines. The planned second floor showed a mental and physical health support room, a library, a study room, a games room and a gender-specific washroom.

Health services could include a nurse, STI screening and access to contraception, depending on the presentation.

A gymnasium/community space could also be rented to community groups. Other suggested ideas include murals by local artists and an aquarium, the latter being a very popular request, according to the students.

The mayor and council said they were impressed with the idea and the presentation.

Com. Marilyn Wilson suggested that BGC Central Vancouver Island or other local community centers might also be a good option for youth programming or space. Students said they would be happy to use or share an existing community space.

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