It’s a universal question asked by parents everywhere, especially those at work during the day: how do we keep the kids busy after school? How do we keep them safe? Provide our children a safe community focused environment with learning opportunities, culture and the ability to play and learn in a safe environment? For the members of the Hupačasath First Nation (HFN) that question is going to get a lot easier to answer. By the end of April the HFN will have finished renovating the community’s new multi-purpose Youth Learning Centre.
Located at 4890 Beaver Creek Road in Port Alberni, the facility has been envisioned as a space where children can go after school to participate in activities, work on arts and crafts, learn cultural programs and to just generally engage in some quality, supervised community fun. Operated by Youth and Elders Coordinator Carolina Tatoosh, and after school program coordinator Robin Klatt, the after school programs will offer Hupačasath children the opportunity to participate in a number of different activities, including a chance to work on their homework with the support of an experienced on-site tutor.
The facility has been vacant for the past few years and was in need of a face-lift, the new centre has been upgraded and renovated to more effectively match the needs of its future users while ensuring compliance under operational policy. Thanks to volunteer efforts the new centre should be ready for its first group of students by the end of April 2015. Once renovations are completed HFN children will have access to a diverse range of activities, including those celebrating the heritage and culture of the Hupačasath First Nation.
In the past traditionally-themed programs developed by Tatoosh have included everything from the weaving of cedar baskets to the finer points of moccasin making. Other forms of creative arts and crafts instruction have also been provided as part of previous after school programs. Once the new and expanded learning space is finished there will be the opportunity to expand the depth and range of programs offered.
The basement of the new Youth Centre has been designed to serve as the nerve centre of its tutoring program, operated by long time coordinator Robin Klatt. Equipped with computers and other learning aides, Klatt will be on-site to assist HFN youth with their homework and other learning issues in a friendly and supportive environment. Having worked as the coordinator of the tutoring centre for nearly two decades, Klatt’s efforts are fully supported and appreciated by School District 70’s administration and teachers, whose resources she can access if needed. Typically as many as two dozen children take advantage of the resources and skills offered by the tutoring centre.
But one of the real strengths of the community Youth Centre is the opportunity it will provide for children to meet with their friends, parent and elders to enjoy some healthy snacks and to learn in a supportive, safe and friendly community focused setting.
Offering programs geared for different age groups (typically those under and those over the age of eight), the new Youth Centre will become the centerpiece of after school activities for the Hupačasath First Nation for years to come.