June 14, 2007


JUNE 13 TH, ST. THOMAS, ON – A Bancroft-area youth program is creating a vibrant community now and for the future, by providing youth a sense of purpose and belonging.  The Community Futures Development Corporation of North & Central Hastings and South Algonquin (Community Futures) coordinates the Youth Empowerment Strategy (YES), which began a set of summer "Cyber Camps" in 2000, and has grown to offer a range of initiatives to meet the needs and respond to the interests of youth participants year- round.  YES representatives received the provincial Youth Initiative Award last week at the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations (OACFDC) Conference in Honey Harbour.

The YES Program is a youth strategy incorporating empowerment, personal growth and accomplishment for young people aged 10-15.  The activities range from small business camps, to dances, and art workshops.  Community Futures works with and through youth to:  inform youth; engage youth; provide opportunity for youth to learn new skills; empower and challenge youth; and help youth earn a place of their own in our communities.

“We're proud to see our youth taking responsibility and making things happen,” says Bob Cloes, General Manager of Community Futures in Bancroft.  “These activities and fundraising events would not be happening without youth leadership and participation.”

Youth in the community are encouraged to engage in activities designed to appeal to a wide range of interests.  Budding journalists can join "Youth Star Newsletter" to write, edit and publish a monthly newsletter with a distribution of 1000.  Young event coordinators participate in "Double Digits Dance" to plan, promote and host regular dances.  Camp themes include leadership, art, drama, business, multi-media, and Alqonquin, for Aboriginal youth.  From skateboard park fundraising, to a youth drop in centre, and a Celebrate Youth Award, there is a place for everyone.

YES would not be possible without volunteers, who also benefit from the experience.  "The high caliber youth programming is wonderful for our youth because it builds self-esteem and provides opportunities for personal growth,” says Stan Wells, a dedicated volunteer and father of two participants.  “The kids are given the autonomy to create much of their own program, set goals and see the results from their efforts."

"As our program evolves, we are seeing youth assuming vital leadership and mentorship roles which in turn benefits our younger members,” says Community Futures Youth Coordinator Abe Drennan.  “Our process is awesome to watch as we focus on nurturing inherent leadership abilities by providing useful tools and concrete skill building opportunities."  Given the chance to thrive in their community at a young age, YES participants will be well-positioned to contribute to rural life as adults.

The Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations (OACFDC) presented the award at its 2007 Awards Banquet, which took place on Monday June 4th during its Annual Conference, and also featured presentations for Entrepreneur of the Year, as well as Innovation and Community Economic Development Initiatives.  The conference, titled "From Broadaxe to Broadband – Hewing out the Future" was held at the Delawana Inn at Honey Harbour, and attracted a cross-section of more than 300 participants, including CFDC staff and volunteers, as well as municipal, provincial and federal government representatives.

As community-based, non-profit organizations, CFDCs are run by a board of local volunteers.  They are staffed by professionals who encourage entrepreneurship and the pursuit of economic opportunities by offering strategic community planning and socio- economic development, support for community-based projects, business services, and access to capital.  Through FedNor/Industry Canada, the Government of Canada provides funding, advice and support to 61 CFDCs located throughout rural and Northern Ontario.

The OACFDC is a provincial association which is a member driven leader for sustainable community development.  Information about the Community Futures Program and "From Broadaxe to Broadband – Hewing out the Future" can be found on the OACFDC website.

Media Contact:  Bob Goes, General Manager
CFDC of North & Central Hastings and South Algonquin 
Telephone:  1-613-332-5564 / E-mail:  cloesb@community-
Media Contact:  Diana Jedig, Executive Director
Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations (OACFDC)
Telephone:  888-633-2326 x23 / Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.