The provincial government announced last week it will be investing a substantial amount of money in initiatives that encourage young people to turn off the television, get off Facebook, and put down their video game controllers.
A number of organizations aimed at promoting healthy youth and healthy communities through things like physical activities, drug and bullying prevention, and healthy eating, now have the opportunity to expand their resources and programming, thanks to the $500,000 investment.
Susan Sullivan, minister of Health and Community Services and MHA For Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans, announced from the Youth 2000 Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor on Friday that thirty-seven organizations, including three from the Exploits region, would be receiving funding under the Provincial Wellness Grants program.
The James Hornell Boys and Girls Club in Buchans will be receiving a $20,000 grant to support healthy living initiatives, and the Corduroy Brook Enhancement Association as well as the Youth 2000 Centre (Y2C) in Grand Falls-Windsor will be receiving $16,000 and $18,000 respectively.
The Y2C is an organization that provides resources for youth such as job coaching, drug and violence prevention, healthy living activities, and a fun, safe environment for youth in the community.
Many of the young people that use the facility on a weekly basis came out to hear Minister Sullivan’s announcement on Friday afternoon.
“I use the centre to stay out of trouble and stuff, to interact with other people and make friends,” said Grade 10 student Jordan Hennifent. He added he was happy to hear the centre was getting funding, and said he hopes it’s used for more activities to encourage more young people to get involved.
“My mind is racing right now, I’m so excited I want to go into my office and start,” said Y2C’s Director April Skinner upon hearing the announcement.
The $18,000 grant will be used to implement a 23-week program to help girls make better decisions in their own lives, as well as help fund other programs such as a kids and drugs parenting program and self esteem, dating violence, and bullying sessions.
Barry Manual, executive director of the Corduroy Brook Enhancement Association said the main focus of his organization for the past number of years has been their nature camp program for children.
Last year 175 kids registered for the camp in seven weeks, Manuel said they had to turn away nearly 40. With the funding, the association is hoping to expand the camp by adding an extra week, and initiate an advanced program for older children.
“It’s about getting kids out, away from the TV and the xbox,” said Manuel. “We’d also like to work with other groups like seniors groups…to encourage more people to get out.”
The Corduroy Brook Trail system runs 15 km through the heart of Grand Falls-Windsor, and includes a rich variety of plants, birds, and animals for nature lovers to enjoy.
“The trail is a huge community asset, it’s made great strides and only though funding opportunities like these have we been able to do so,” said Manuel.
The James Hornell Boys and Girls club will be using their grant to provide regular fitness programming for their members. They also provide healthy after school snacks, and educational opportunities for health and wellness to the children that utilize the club.
According to the Childhood Obesity Foundation, approximately 26 per cent of Canadian children ages 2-17 years old are currently overweight or obese. It has been speculated that with current obesity trends, children today risk having a shorter lifespan then their parents.
“Everything we do in this government is centered around young people,” said Minister Sullivan.
Minister Sullivan also made several other funding announcements on Friday, including $170,000 in grant funding to Cancer Prevention and Awareness organizations, and $192,000 for the Healthy Aging Senior Wellness Grants program.
“(We are) more concerned with young people and making positive choices than you could ever imagine,” said Minister Sullivan. “We’re so pleased to be able to partner with so many community organizations and provide them with the funding required to engage the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador in living healthier lifestyles.”