Submitted by Isaac
Youth Community Action Project participant
I was a part of the CMHA Cowichan Valley Youth Advisory Committee last year and did a few Mental Wellness activities. In the summer, I learned about the Youth Community Action Project from Ray Anthony, so I met up with him and we chatted about it. It seemed really interesting, and I loved the idea of helping our community through volunteering so I applied, and in August we started. The Youth CAP is being funded by the Government of Canada through the Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement and the Kiwanis Club of Duncan. The project is to provide 10 youth participants, including myself, with experiential education and volunteer opportunities to gain leadership and social skills.
The other 9 youth participants in this project are really cool and I'm lucky enough to have known a few already. It made me a bit nervous to think I'd only know a few of the people there, and once we started it I wasn't sure how I felt. Maybe nervous, scared, excited, or all of the above. But once we got to working I started getting really into it.
I especially felt this when I went to volunteer at Warmland Shelter in the kitchen for the first time, which is something I get to do because of this project. The first time I was nervous it was gonna scare me, but when I got there it was very fun. I enjoyed working in the kitchen with Chef Rena, I got to make a variety of things with one of the other project members Ryan, I've wanted to learn how to cook more stuff and improve my knowledge of cooking for a long while and I feel this experience helped with that. The only thing I would change about the experience is the long back-and-forth trips on the bus because it’s like an hour long trip either way! It's a good time to relax and listen to music though especially when you get to take the bus with your friends, and sometimes I get to take it with the people I know from the program which is always super nice.
The experiences and learning I've gained from this program, as well as the friends and acquaintances I've made along the way have been far more rewarding than anything else so far, including the stipends that we receive for our participation in the program. But that stipend money has also been helping me a lot. I've been struggling with homelessness for a little while now and this program has helped me with my mental health when and coping with the sad parts of life. It’s also helped me find happiness and wellness in the past weeks. Talking to supportive adults and the rest of the program participants is fun and enjoyable, and I know it really does improve my mental health and wellness. Whether it be planning stuff to do or actually doing stuff, the Youth CAP team stays entertained but mostly on task. Meeting new people and having fun is what I'm enjoying most about this program. In general, I wanna work with kids more - that's like my second favourite volunteer activity other than doing ecological restoration work… maybe third favourite if doing restoration work with kids was ever an option!
I hope this program receives more funding so that it can run annually and support more teens. So far it's been an enjoyable and rewarding experience in my life and it's something I'd suggest for kids around my age to do in the future.