Recently one of the senior managers within the Parks, Recreation and Culture team posed the question, ‘what’s our why?’ It is a simple question on the surface but it really got us thinking. It has quickly become our team mantra. We keep it in mind as we develop and review program proposals. It is what we consider when we align ourselves with other community groups and foster existing relationships. For a lot of us the ‘why’ of what we do comes back to being a part of a community and our want to contribute to it.
I grew up in a remote island town and, not that I understood it at the time, community was everything. People helped each other regardless of what they were doing; it was just how things got done. I have vivid memories of teams of people of all ages working (and laughing) alongside in kitchens and backyards. The same was true whenever a the local playground needed some work or the community wharf needed repair, people just showed up and got things done. People shared ideas, tools, food and even shelter if need be. This is what shaped my understanding of what community should be.
I believe that if we share with youth what it means to be a part of a community it will foster a sense of confidence. To me this is what is so wonderful about our Leaders in Training and Quest programs, providing youth with an opportunity to feel a part of their community. They learn that we each have talents and strengths that if shared flourish. They learn that it is okay to ask for help and what if feels like to help others. Through working together during these programs they learn that in a group setting sometimes you have to give to get. These are lessons that will prepare a person to be able to face anything life throws at them.
Looking at the number of volunteer hours (11,000+) it sounds like this summer’s LIT/Quest teams could teach a lot of us what it means to be a part of a community. For more information about LIT/Quest and other programs please visit www.nanaimo.ca or pick up the latest Activity Guide.