Emily Percival-Paterson is a member of the Sooke Youth Council.

Youth council seeking members

Students can involve themselves in community affairs

The Sooke Youth Council is recruiting, and they want you.

Well, as long as you’re between the ages of 13 and 21 (although the maximum age is not set in stone), and you’re passionate about sharing ideas, projecting the voice of young people and developing a new age of youth engagement in Sooke.

“We’re just starting up for the new year,” said veteran council member Emily Percival-Paterson, who added all but two of the eight current members will be graduating high school in June, many of whom will be leaving for college or university. Percival-Patterson, a Grade 12 EMCS student, is among them.

A not-for-profit organization, one of the things the SYC does is brainstorm and undertake local projects that are focussed around young people.

“It was created to try and help form a positive image of youth and to give youth at Journey and EMCS a chance to do more community relationship things instead of just at the schools,” said Percival-Paterson.

An example of that is the annual Youth Friendly Business Project. This summer, SYC hired two students in the area who conducted surveys at EMCS to gauge which businesses, like the name suggests, were the most youth friendly.

Questions included how many youngsters were part of staff, what wage they were earning, whether they had benefits, and if the businesses took part in fundraisers and supported scholarships. The results were then tallied, offering some interesting statistics — such as out of 50 local businesses surveyed, 48 per cent of employees were between the ages of 13 to 25.

“We went around yesterday and presented certificates to 10 businesses,” she said.

More recently, SYC purchased a film license and hosted one of many movie nights to come last Wednesday at the EMCS theatre raising over $125. They will be showing prereleases, or movies that are just out of the theatre but not yet on DVD, for a $2 minimum donation. All money raised goes toward youth council initiatives, like trying to find a permanent meeting place instead of using a room at Edward Milne.

In the new year, they put on a concert at the community hall that drew around 500 people. Looking forward, the council would like to help out with the Christmas food bank, partnering with intercultural promoter Canada World Youth, and possibly having another concert in the spring.

“It’s a really good time to join and a really good time to come out to meetings because we’re looking for a new project,” said Percival-Paterson. She has been with the SYC since its inception when she was looking for a volunteering leadership opportunity in 2009, and is the last remaining founding member. After the end of the school year, the young redhead will stick around for a little longer before taking a year off to go backpacking in Europe.

She said the organization is constantly seeking grants to supplement its operating costs. Currently the club is sponsored by the District of Sooke, the RCMP and the Rotary Club.

To join, just show up to one of the meetings in the Edward Milne seminar room every second Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.