Exploring Potential, Finding Hope. This is the slogan of Youth Unlimited Wetaskiwin’s Youth Centre which held its grand opening April 13th, 2015 recently relocating to the Wetaskiwin Mall from its downtown location across from City Hall. Experiencing the grand opening however could be better described as ‘Organized Energy’. A multitude of kids and wanna-be kids descended on the Centre Monday night, visiting, participating in floor hockey, playing pool, Xbox or ping pong, listening to the music and testimony of the live band Bracing For Downpour or enjoying a free hot dog and drink.
The Centre, which is geared to provide a safe and welcoming place for kids to come to, is driven by leaders with a passion to come alongside of young people from all backgrounds, building relationships with the kids through programs, activities and friendship while offering a caring heart and a listening ear.
Among the many well-known events and activities Youth Unlimited hosts, including ski trips and the famous Mission Impossible (where youth attempt to make it to checkpoints without being ‘caught’ by the leaders who are ‘hunting’ the youth on foot and ATVs with flashlights), Youth Unlimited reaches into the schools and communities of the region with programs and Centres in both Wetaskiwin and Millet. As a faith based organization, youth are also offered the hope found in relationship with God, and given a green light to ask any questions they may have about faith and/or the big questions of life in a non-judgmental and safe atmosphere.
Overseeing this valuable asset to the community is experienced and friendly Wetaskiwin Program Coordinator, Jeanelle Van Os. With her team of trained volunteers, Jeanelle has been excited about the relocation for some time now. The opportunity opened up as a joint venture with The Justice Café and Lighthouse Fellowship occupying the remodeled space that used to be Liquidation World.
When asked why the move from what seemed to be a great location (near the high school), Jeanelle responded by emphasizing that the move was inevitable as their lease was up on the previous location (the old Mission Church) and the threat of the area being developed was hanging over their heads. More so, Jeanelle pointed out that, “The [new] Centre has the benefit of being a neutral space.” One of the problems they had at the old location was some of the kids were not comfortable coming into a church, even if it was to play ping-pong or just sit and visit. The neutrality of the mall location changes that.
The Youth Centre will offer a host of programs throughout the week for many different age groups of young people. On Tuesdays, from 3:30–5:30pm, Club 456 will run as an after-school program for grades four through six. Wednesday Nights from 6:30-8:30pm, grade seven to twelve youth can come to drop-in floor hockey and on Thursday Nights from 6:00-10:00pm, the Youth Centre will be open for grades seven to twelve youth. In addition, many other programs and events will be offered throughout the year. For more details, go to their website www.wetaskiwinyouthunlimited.com or check them out on their Facebook page.