Organization offers mentors to local youth
Airdrie youth looking for mentors now have options.
Young Life of Airdrie is a Christian-based program that offers youth, grades 7 to 9, adult mentors. Leaders will play road hockey, go to the mall, watch a basketball game or head to the ski hill with local youth.
“We are a long-term organization that builds relationships with kids that last a lifetime,” said John Miller, Young Life of Airdrie director.
Young Life has been around for 70 years and is the largest Christian-based youth organization in the world, operating in 60 countries. More than 40,000 kids attend week-long Young Life camps around the world, including one in Princeton, B.C. Five Young Life groups exist in Calgary.
The Airdrie organization, which was founded about a year ago and is funded by local donations, relies on adult volunteer leaders, who undergo police checks and volunteer their time.
Young Life has a committee of about 12 local volunteers and partners with parents prior to contact with youth.
“We try to get to know kids in their environment, but we also want to get to know their parents,” he said, adding the organization currently works with about nine youth. “These parents and volunteers are excited about what is happening and want to spread the word.”
Lorne Vellacott, who has lived in Airdrie for more than 30 years, volunteers with Airdrie Young Life. A father of two grown daughters, he said the organization is necessary.
“I think they are filling a need in the community and the more young people we can get involved in doing something positive, the better it will be,” he said. “They aren’t pushy about their faith, they accept people where they are.”
Besides mentoring activities, the organization also offers group events, such as paint ball and parent-child rock climbing, every two months and smaller events, such as games nights, every other week.
The organization also offers casual discussion groups for youth who want to learn more about the Christian faith.
“It is totally their choice if they want to come or not,” said Miller. “It’s a time to talk about life and how we find God.”
According to Miller, the organization is beneficial whether youth want to know more about the Christian faith or not.
“We want to support the family and find cool things for parents to do with their kids, and get to know us as an organization,” said Miller, adding the organization’s goal is to provide someone that the kids can share personal struggles with.
Miller said today’s youth are faced with a number of difficulties including bullying, problems at home, social issues and homework. In addition, there are a number of potentially dangerous activities they could get involved in including drinking, doing drugs and becoming sexually active.
“If they have a mentor they can trust to talk to… they are less likely to fall into those things that are going to hurt them in the future,” said Miller.
Miller, the former youth pastor at Faith Community Baptist Church, said he grew up going to church and as an adult realizes how lucky he was to have a caring community of people in his life.
“People were there for me… helping me in those tough situations and they were priceless to me,” he said. “Just knowing I had other caring adults in my life was enough to keep me confident in who I was and in what I was doing.”
Young Life of Airdrie next activity will be a parenting session to be held at Genesis Place, Oct. 4. The meeting, featuring Randy Carter, who has 33 years of experience with youth, will start at 6:43 p.m. in the Rotary room. Cost per individual or couple is $10 with funds going to send youth to summer camp.