Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Centre a shining gem in inner-city neighbourhood

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With fall underway and colder weather beginning, Youth for Christ’s Centre for Youth Excellence on Main Street and Higgins Avenue, is in full swing.


Open for 10 months now, staff and youth alike are calling it home. The building stands out with its copper siding and banks of windows, like a gem in the city’s core area. Inside, the dedication to quality can be seen throughout, reflecting and inspiring excellence.


"I’m so proud to show friends and newcomers [where I work]", says dance teacher Janelle Hacault. With the many programs of Youth for Christ now housed in one location, leaders feel more connected to each other. "It’s like we all share a common vibe now," Hacault says.


Each of the programs offers a chance for young people to develop confidence and skill in a caring community, whether they are interested in sports (basketball, floor hockey, soccer, volleyball), skateboarding, art, dance, or even wall-climbing.


Mentorship is a key part of each program, with more than 300 volunteers involved. Eating together is another important aspect of life, with various dinner clubs meeting weekly.


Since moving to the North End, YFC has welcomed hundreds of new kids into their programs. There are plenty of free and low-cost options. The Masterworks Studios dance/art school offers financial help for lower-income families, work-for-trade options, and transportation.


Miles is a student who heard of Masterworks through its summer camps. Last year, he choreographed and performed a piece for his Island Lakes reserve.


Students agree that the teachers see potential in everyone. Jenna, who has danced with Masterworks in many different locations over the past 10 years says: "I love it here. All the colours — bright and cheerful — reflect how staff treat you."


Masterworks teaches dance to youngsters two years of age and up. Drop-in art classes are offered mid-week.


When The Edge skatepark reopened indoors in January, youth finally had a place to do what they love during the winter.  


"Since we have unfriendly skater weather most of the year, having a world class indoor skatepark is amazing," said Charla Smeall, a mother of four skateboarders.


"What I like so much about The Edge is the group of amazing guys who run the place and volunteer. My boys think they are so cool — they are amazing mentors for my boys".


About 1,300 different skateboarders currently use the centre’s facilities. Executive director John Courtney is thrilled with the numbers. He’s also thrilled that after raising $12.7 million to build the facility, there’s only $1 million left to go. The centre houses a gymnasium, fitness centre, drop-in facility, climbing wall, conference rooms, counselling centre, employment training, and teen parenting support and operates without government funding. Its annual fundraising dinner will take place Tues., Oct. 30.


The centre welcomes all youth. Facility rentals are also available. To learn more, call 669-4205 or visit www.yfcwinnipeg.com.


Sonya Braun is a community correspondent for the North End. You can contact her at sonyajoy@gmail.com.

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