Friday, April 18, 2014

UNFC offering youth programs

Having received some funding for youth programs, the United Native Friendship Centre here has started up an eight-week session for youngsters of all ages.
“It’s giving the youth an opportunity to learn, share their voice, and have fun,” enthused Cathy Fobister, the new cultural co-ordinator for aboriginal youth at the UNFC.

She, along with an assistant, Brad Fyfe, will be heading the program, which began last week.
It predominantly is offered in the evenings and on various weekends, with many of the planned activities having a
cultural component to them.
And youth do not have to attend every event.
“They can pick and choose which are of interest to them,” Fobister said.
The sessions include teaching everything from beading and language to drumming (big drum and hand drum) and singing.
“Songs will be taught to all who participate and various styles of dance will be taught and encouraged to participate when the singers are singing,” she noted.
They also will offer cultural teachings, such a story-telling, legends, pow-wow etiquette, gender roles, and snaring.
“Some of the legends are only talked about in the winter time, so it’s a good time to do those,” Fobister reasoned.
In addition, the eight-week program includes two support groups—one for parents and one for youth.
The idea for the youth support group is “to create a safe and comfortable atmosphere where youth will have topics in which to be discussed,” such as peer pressure and alcohol and drug recovery.
“It’s for prevention,” Fobister said. “To help youth through the challenges they have.”
The parent support group, meanwhile, will allow a presenter to share on a topic related to raising youth, as well as time for parents to share and listen to others.
Topics will include positive self-esteem building for youth and suicide risk flags.
Friday night sessions will be reserved for “fun” activities, such as karaoke night, games, and sliding.
Fobister and Fyfe also will be organizing a career fair in March, which they are hoping other agencies will assist with, as well as an elders and youth conference during the March Break.
“But it’s going to have a different spin,” Fobister explained.
“The youth will be educating the elders on today’s challenges and the frustrations they face.”
It will be open to the public and Fobister hopes other agencies will attend.
“It’s the youth voices we will be hearing—it’s important to listen to them,” she stressed.
“Our youth face a lot today that we never really had to.”
The target age for the youth program is aged 12-25, but with some exceptions.
“We’re not going to turn people away if they want to be there,” Fobister noted.
There is no cost to attend any of the sessions, and both aboriginal and non-aboriginal youth are welcome.
“It’s important for youth to feel comfortable with one another and it’s a great opportunity to learn about the culture,” Fobister reasoned.
She added they’ve had interest in the program from several families, and she hopes to get at least 50 youth involved over the course of the eight weeks.
Those interested can pick up a calender of the evening activities at the UNFC.
They also can visit the Facebook group for more information by searching “UNFC - 8 Week Youth Program - Fort Frances.”
Then they are invited to just show up for the activity.
“They will just have to sign a participation form and a consent form is needed for anything held outside the facility,” Fobister noted.
For more information, contact her at 274-8541 ext. 291.

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