Community

Club starting up to encourage, recognize youths

TERRACE NEEDS a club to encourage and recognize young people in a positive way.

That’s the word from Dallis Winsor, who’s working on starting an Optimist Club here.

“I moved to B.C. nine years ago and practised law in Ashcroft and moved to Terrace on April 12 of last year, and it became immediately evident Terrace very badly needs something related to youth,” said Winsor, who is a defence lawyer, and founder of Kermodei Optimist Club of Terrace.

“I see it every day that there’s some things we could be doing to motivate youth and recognize youth as well. Those are two separate things.”

An Optimist Club is a service club for children and youths, he said.

“It’s a matter of providing the community with additional activities,” he said, noting that an Optimist Club isn’t there to take away from the other clubs, which do a great job here raising money for community and global needs.

Once an adult Optimist Club is set up, a junior Optimist Club could be set up so the young people can run their own activities and plan their own projects.

“If you get a kid involved in community service at an early age, it becomes a lifelong thing,” said Winsor.

At the first meeting, despite the weather being -35 C with the windchill, mayor Dave Pernarowski, city councillor Lynne Christensen and head lifeguard Debbie Van’t Kruis joined Winsor.

At each subsequent meeting, different people have shown up, he said.

Put them all together and there should be enough people to get the club going, he added. The minimum number of members needed to start the club is 15,  which is certainly doable, he said.

“I would like, probably 25 [members] is a nice size,” said Winsor.

He’s anxious to work with other organizations such as the youth advisory committee.

“I have a lot of fun doing it and get to meet some very positive people and it’s really nice especially in this weather to get together with positive people to acknowledge there are some difficulties we want to do something about rather than just complaining,” he said about why he loves being part of the optimist club.

To join the adult club, people have to be at least 18-years-old.

For the junior club, there are a variety of levels: high school, middle school and younger children.

Good potential members are people who see a problem and go out to do something about it, he said, noting that people he’s read about in town who would be great for the club or junior club are Steve Kunar, the college student who collected clothes and items for Ksan House Society last Christmas; Jessica McCallum-Miller, who organized a hunger strike to bring awareness to the need for a youth centre here last summer; and Tim Zettler, who secretly collected money for his friend who lost everything in a house fire recently.

Many Optimist Clubs have a youth appreciation week to recognize youths who have done positive things, he added. There are already idea for projects and people will likely see a visible presence of the club soon after its official kickoff, he said.

For more on the club, see Community Calendar under PSAs.

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