BGC Airdrie Club, a youth organization that offers after-school programs and summer day camp options to kids, is expanding into Beiseker this year.
While the organization has operated in Irricana for eight years, this spring will mark the first time they have offered programs in Beiseker. BGC Airdrie formed in 1979, as the Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie.
Denisa Sanness, BGC Airdrie’s executive director, said there are plenty of youth in Beiseker who will benefit from the opportunity to take part in the club’s programs. She said up until now, kids in Beiseker had to travel south to Irricana for those opportunities.
“You kind of go back and forth between Irricana and Beiseker because of the communities’ [proximity to each other],” she said. “They’re a bedroom community, a great community, and what better way to be able to provide them services within their own village?”
According to Sanness, the opportunity to bring the BGC Airdrie club to Beiseker was made possible by the Village of Beiseker’s FCSS and community services coordinator, Brook Swanson.
Swanson, who took over the role of Beiseker's FCSS and community services coordinator last year, called the collaboration between BGC Airdrie Club and the Village of Beiseker a fantastic partnership that will serve local children well in the years to come.
“We’ve worked in partnership with the BGC Airdrie Club for the last year, and we’re just strengthening that foundation,” she said. “We knew there’s a need in the community for children’s programming. Having the expertise of the BGC Airdrie Club in regards to their staff and programming options – we just knew how important and vital that is in Beiseker, and to its children and families.”
BGC Airdrie's programs will initially be offered in Beiseker on Professional Development days, according to Sanness, when kids in the village are not in school.
“We’re hoping to expand and start running evening programs out there as well, much like we run [in Airdrie] and in Irricana,” she said, and added the club’s members did a tour of Beiseker facilities last week to gauge which building would suit them best.
“It’s just always best to start small as opposed to starting big, and then let it grow.”
BGC Airdrie programs that will be offered in Beiseker will be “based on need,” according to Sanness. She said those could include BGC Airdrie’s Junior Chef cooking program, the organization's Nerd Squad – a group for tech-savvy individuals – and Accelerate, which is an intro-to-driving program that prepares youth ages 13 to 17 to take their learners’ permit test.
“There’s also Master Chef, Girl on Fire, women’s empowerment – there’s a whole gamut of different programs we run,” Sanness said. “We also started piloting in Irricana our Keystone Group, which is one of our leadership groups, with the hopes of expanding that to Beiseker in time.”
Swanson added having BGC Airdrie programs available locally will open many doors for youth in Beiseker and the surrounding area.
“It’s their programming, their connection to [Beiseker Community School], and their connection to other resources that families might need,” she said. “I look at this as a fantastic community relationship, and I’m really hoping kids in the community and families gravitate toward the programming, register, and interact with their community.”