Projects that help young people stay active, drink more water, read more books, spend more quality time with their pets and climb to new heights are among those receiving grants through the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta’s Youth in Action grant program.
Funds were awarded to 13 schools, charities and community groups, who will split $14,500. A list of grant recipients and brief project descriptions follow. Projects will be funded in Coaldale, Coalhurst, Iron Springs, Lethbridge, Milk River, Mountain View, Pincher Creek and Taber.
“The Youth in Action grant program was established in 2012 to get young people interested in giving back to their communities with modest grants,” said George Hall, the Community Foundation’s Executive Director. “Since then, more than $47,000 has been granted to support numerous projects across the region.”
Hall added that the ideas came directly from the young people, and support projects directly related to young people. “There are a lot of thoughtful, community-minded young people in our region who want to make things better for their peers and others in the community.”
Among the independent selection committee members are Community Foundation volunteers and students from the University of Lethbridge Rotaract Club, a post-secondary division of Rotary International.
One of the 10 projects involves an upgrade to the Town of Coaldale dog park, an idea developed by students at R.I. Baker middle school in Coaldale who identified a need to improve the local dog park for all residents. With the co-operation of the Town of Coaldale, trees, benches and planters will be installed to improve the seating and shade for users of all ages.
An interesting twist to some of the grant applications is that, apart from being generated by students, some were done so as part of an ongoing research project undertaken by University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education researcher Dr. David Slomp, who studies how students can apply writing skills to real-world situations. He is currently working with approximately 200 students in grades six to 12 in several school divisions in southwestern Alberta.
"Grant programs like ‘Youth in Action’ are excellent vehicles for teaching students both the value of community engagement and the power of writing to promote the social good,” Slomp said. “It is very rewarding to see students excited about and engaged in these authentic, meaningful, real-world writing tasks." The awards were adjudicated by an independent panel, without any knowledge of which applications were part of the research project.