Sooke Junior Youth Empowerment Group members Amber

Empowering youth helps community

Some more help would be appreciated with youth group

Thanks to current coordinator Zia Holte, the Sooke Junior Youth Empowerment Group has been reinvigorated after an almost two year absence.

Similar to a local-focused Free the Children (a worldwide charity organization fostering youth activism), its mandate is to increase community engagement with local youth, and provide them with a sense of global citizenship.

Made up of about eight members aged 11 to 15, the group meets once a week on Thursday nights at 6 p.m. to practice team building techniques and plan service projects. Working with Journey Middle School, their last endeavour was a Halloween food drive that managed to collect over 100-pounds of food that was donated to the Sooke Food Bank.

“The next one is at the end of February — a project for the homeless, collecting towels and soap and socks and making little bundles (for distribution),” said Holte.

She was involved with the previous iteration of the group, originally started over a decade ago, for three years.

“It had been lagging for a while, a lack of leadership.”

Holte’s 13-year-old son Adam is a member, and is also the reason she came on board.

“I got it started because if nothing else, I thought it would give him a safe place to be and hopefully offer some guidance and structure along the way.”

In the last few sessions, most of the time has been spent establishing guidelines of conduct and defining rules of respect for members. Soon, they will turn more attention to their project for the homeless, as well as reinstating an old tradition of regular visits to Ayre Manor. The kids visit seniors and listen to stories, sing songs and participate in other activities.

Organizing everything is a lot of work, and Holte said she is looking for a little assistance.

“I would love some help, have an older teen — 17 to 22 — which we call an animator. Someone who’s younger, (the kids) respond to this age group better than to the mommy,” she said.

Meetings take place at Holte’s house, to join or volunteer call her at 778-425-0999.