History of Aspiral Youth Partners
In the years 2000 and 2001 Salmon Arm had a business open in the community which was a huge draw for young people. The downside was that this Pool Hall started to draw kids into petty criminal activity as a way of being able to pay for their time and activity at the business. The operation of this business pointed out a significant concern within the community. We had not provided these kinds of opportunities for young people to gather in a more positive way. The response was twofold, the city through its business licensing put a great deal of pressure on the business, and a group of those involved in supporting young people who had been looking at how to better support young people wrote a proposal to develop better options and alternatives for youth.
The business closed and the group partnered with the Downtown Improvement Centre and was successful in finding three years of funding through the National Crime Prevention Center to create sustainable youth resources within the community. Our business partner in this venture was the Downtown Improvement Association. In order to administrate this project a not for profit organization was formed named Salmon Arm Partners in Community Leadership Association. Little did we realize how often we were going to have to say that name as the society grew.
With additional funding in our first year through Service Canada we worked with a group of 10 young people and a brilliant facilitator to try a number of different activities including a community forum to find what was important for young people to feel connected and supported within their community. We recognized very early from the responses that we got that a consistent place for people to connect was important for sustainability. Now in our 12th year we have a staff of twenty three people with ten workers in programs to support young people and we continue to look for opportunities to engage young people in meaningful ways to build their connection in our community.
Although we work hard to generate some of our revenue through social enterprise we still need the support of our community. Through grants, gifts and other contributions by groups and business’s like the Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union, Rotary, McDonalds, Askews, Save on Foods, Shuswap Foundation, City of Salmon Arm and many others, we have been able to grow and sustain our vision.
Youth development and support through Social Programs and opportunities.
This is where it all began. With the vision of having sustainable resources for youth in Salmon Arm, our belief is that young people need a consistent place to connect to as they grow to find support and opportunities to engage in meaningful activity and mentorship in charting their course. All young people struggle as they grow some more than others. Some grow up in very difficult realities. Our work focuses both on supporting young people to be able to engage in successful ways within the community and to work with the community to better support and engage with young people. We connect resources and supports to the young people in our community who need them.
We started with a dedicated space at the Downtown Activity Centre called the Outer Limits (a name chosen by youth themselves.)We have developed the space to have a kitchen and meeting space and have offered both structured programs and drop in activities to meet the needs young people identified. Early on se developed a summer program called Party in the Park which takes programming out into the community to parks and beaches where young people can access within walking distance. This program continues today with positive results.
Today we provide service through
· Five different contracts with the Ministry of Children and Family Development which includes Youth Outreach, Intensive Support and Supervision, Parent Teen Conflict Intervention, Community Work Service and Intensive Youth and Family Intervention.
· Our summer program, “Party in the Park
· Employment training for young people.
· Hosting in our community and region, Kid Sport and Jumpstart to connect more kids with activities through subsidizing registrations and some activity costs where this is a barrier to becoming involved in activities.
· Drop in programs
· Providing Licensed Child Care Programs (3-5, Preschool and After School care)
· Mandella Youth Inclusion Program a five year initiative to connect with young people at earlier stages of challenge in their life to provide support for both youth and their families to grow and develop. This program is in its last year of funding and we are looking for ways of building on what we have learned.
SASCU Downtown Activity Centre, 451 Shuswap St. SW Salmon Arm
Halfway through our first year the school district was closing the old Salmon Arm Elementary School. We looked at the opportunity to take over the building and rent and lease space to help generate revenue to create the sustainability that we were looking for. As any small business owner can tell you the first few years are a bit of a roller coaster. The naming contract that we signed with Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union was a great help both in terms of the cash it provided as well as giving us a sense of credibility within the community.
We have had a tremendous response from the community and a number of groups and organizations came on board who bought into the vision of the community center. Over the years we have had dozens of groups and organizations starting up in our facility, while some have moved on, some have shifted and changed, others remain and continue to this day. We have been able to support groups like the Metis Association, Voice of the Shuswap Broadcast Society along with many others hold space until they became viable. This past year we estimate that we have had well over 32,000 visits to our centre.