Ben Boxall has had perhaps the most active social calendar of any Winnipeg teenager this summer — and he’s hoping to see more of his generation join him.
The 16-year-old has been to the Winnipeg Folk Festival, a Winnipeg Goldeyes game, a Winnipeg Blue Bombers game, the Manitoba Museum, Kildonan Park, Assinniboine Park, the Journey to Churchill at the zoo and the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, to name a few.
Along the way, he’s been taking pictures and videos and conducting interviews and then pushing them out on social media in an effort to get his fellow teenagers out of their houses and into Winnipeg’s active summer lifestyle.
Boxall is working with three other teens on a pilot project run by advertising and marketing agency McKim, called Get Out of the Basement.
"I think it’s necessary because a lot of people say there’s nothing to do in Winnipeg, and that’s 100 per cent not the case. There is stuff going on all the time. If somebody is there to show people, they would be more willing to go to events, meet people and explore the city," he said.
Too many teenagers are glued to the phones and communicate "artificially" with each other, and that doesn’t prepare them for the real world where people talk to each other, Boxall said.
"I used to text all the time, but when I started going out to events my social skills went through the roof. I finally figured out how to communicate with people face to face. A lot of people don’t have those skills. Everybody could brush up a little bit and it would be a more communicative world," he said.
Boxall said the response he and his team have received has been positive, and even when some of their friends don’t come out to an event, they’ll show their support with a "like."
"Some people recognized us at the fringe festival from one of our videos and came up and said ‘hi,’ " he said.
Kathryn Patrick, account manager at McKim, said it didn’t take long to come up with the idea for the pilot project, as many people in the office have teenagers living under their roofs.
"Some of them don’t have jobs or are too young to have jobs and they don’t do anything. It’s a waste of a summer," she said.
Get Out of the Basement started a couple of weeks ago and runs until the end of the month, but Boxall said he hopes many teens will keep the dream alive by going to events such as Folklorama in August.