Mid­dle­ton teen has plans to make his com­mu­nity a bet­ter place

Annapolis Valley Register - - NEWS - BY ELYIAS FRENCH MID­DLE­TON Elyias French is a ju­nior leader with the An­napo­lis District RCMP’s Cops and Kids pro­gram and Mid­dle­ton Re­gional High School’s stu­dent coun­cil co-pres­i­dent.

I re­cently spent some time with 15 other teens and more RCMP mem­bers than I could count from all across the coun­try at the RCMP de­pot in Regina.

For six days, I spent my time work­ing, think­ing, shar­ing ideas, and dur­ing the evenings, work­ing out and play­ing bas­ket­ball along­side some of the most di­verse and ded­i­cated youth I have ever met.

We were all selected by the RCMP branch of our com­mu­ni­ties for a rea­son. We all wanted to make a dif­fer­ence in our towns, vil­lages, com­mu­ni­ties and homes. I can­not say how amaz­ing it was to talk with these other teens and hear about where they are from, as well as some com­mon is­sues they face.

It re­ally widened my per­spec­tive of Canada and made me re­al­ize how truly di­verse it re­ally is. We are pretty lucky where we live that we don’t have to deal with some of the very se­ri­ous and very present prob­lems that other parts of the coun­try do.

I’m not say­ing that we live in a per­fect, prob­lem-free town - not by a long shot. What I am say­ing is we have a chance to grow as a com­mu­nity and to solve some of the is­sues – such as youth bore­dom - that are found lo­cally here and maybe even pre­vent some is­sues from form­ing in the first place.

The main idea of the work­shop was to bring to­gether a group of youths with lo­cal RCMP mem­bers from com­mu­ni­ties through­out Canada in or­der to dis­cuss prob­lems that dif­fer­ent ar­eas are deal­ing with and how we - the youths and the fu­ture of this coun­try - can come to­gether along­side lo­cal groups, committees, and or­ga­ni­za­tions to solve or pre­vent them al­to­gether.

Each youth had to come up with an ac­tion plan that they could put into place in their com­mu­nity. Some pop­u­lar ideas were game nights and sched­uled ac­tiv­i­ties to beat youth bore­dom and ed­u­ca­tional na­ture trips to teach other youths ba­sic hunt­ing, fish­ing, and na­ture skills that they can use in life.

My ac­tion plan was slightly dif­fer­ent than those, how­ever. I’ve no­ticed that most young peo­ple of­ten don’t feel as mo­ti­vated or as con­fi­dent as they could or should be. This de­vel­ops them to be “fol­low­ers” in­stead of lead­ers.

Within the com­mu­nity, it’s the lead­ers who make healthy re­la­tions with oth­ers and healthy choices for them­selves. Many of the “fol­low­ers” are very vul­ner­a­ble to un­healthy choices, such as sub­stances and al­co­hol, and since they don’t have the con­fi­dence or mo­ti­va­tion to say no.

I plan on cre­at­ing a group - or maybe col­lab­o­rat­ing with an al­ready ex­ist­ing group with a sim­i­lar goal - to bring to­gether the youth of the com­mu­nity and to en­cour­age small, self-made projects within the com­mu­nity as well as do­ing a larger group project twice a year.

The per­sonal projects could be any­thing from vol­un­teer­ing at a lo­cal event to shov­el­ling a neigh­bour’s drive­way in the win­ter. They are small acts of kind­ness that would help to build healthy re­la­tions be­tween the youth and the rest of the com­mu­nity.

The group project, though, would be a larger scale act where the en­tire group would come to­gether along­side part­ners, such as the RCMP or the fire depart­ment, in or­der to im­prove the com­mu­nity as a whole. This could be some­thing like do­ing a park cleanup or hold­ing a din­ner to raise money for a good cause.

I am still work­ing on the de­tails to or­ga­nize this project of mine, but I have some great help from Adam Burns, with the RCMP, and I plan to get started as soon as I pos­si­bly can.

LAWRENCE POW­ELL

Elyias French, right, re­cently at­tended a week­long youth lead­er­ship con­fer­ence in Regina at RCMP De­pot. Adam Burns, left, is the Com­mu­nity Pro­grams Of­fi­cer for An­napo­lis District RCMP and selected French for the trip. Burns also at­tended.

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