Fri­day fun for Stanstead teens

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

When Brit­tany But­ler was a young teenager grow­ing up in Stanstead, just a few years ago, there weren’t a lot of op­tions when it came to find­ing some­thing around town to do. “I re­mem­ber that we used to have a sports night on Thurs­day night.

That was the only thing to do but we were happy to have that,” said Brit­tany in an in­ter­view with the Stanstead Jour­nal.

“But it’s not ev­ery kid that likes to play sports, so it’s im­por­tant to have other ac­tiv­i­ties for teenagers to do,” added Brit­tany who has re­turned again this year to run a youth cen­ter on Fri­day nights for Stanstead’s youth. When asked if her ex­pe­ri­ence as a teenager in Stanstead mo­ti­vated her to take the po­si­tion at the youth cen­ter, she said: “Def­i­nitely!”

When Brit­tany was first asked by the town’s Re­cre­ation co­or­di­na­tor, Marise Trepanier, if she was in­ter­ested in work­ing as the an­i­ma­tor at the youth cen­ter, she was en­rolled in Cham­plain Col­lege’s Spe­cial Care Coun­sel­ing Pro­gram, a pro­gram that teaches its stu­dents how to plan ben­e­fi­cial ac­tiv­i­ties for dif­fer­ent client groups, teenagers be­ing one of them. “I was tak­ing Spe­cial Care cour­ses when Marise asked me about the job, so I also saw it as a way to get more knowl­edge about that clien­tele,” added Ms. But­ler.

“The first year it started, I had the same three kids all year. Then by the next year, those three kids turned into five, and more re­cently I’ve had about ten kids com­ing. Most of my youth are four­teen and fif­teen, mostly guys and a few girls. They all go to Galt, and some­times they bring their friends who live in other towns with them,” said the an­i­ma­tor.

“Right now all the kids speak English, but French kids can come to the youth cen­ter, too. A neigh­bor of mine asked if French kids could go and I said, sure, bring them. It’s a great way for the kids to learn the other lan­guage,” said Brit­tany who is bilin­gual her­self and knows the ben­e­fits of speak­ing both of­fi­cial lan­guages. Af­ter de­cid­ing that the Spe­cial Care Coun­sel­ing Pro­gram wasn’t for her, she opted for a dif­fer­ent pro­gram which is only of­fered in French in this re­gion. “I’m wait­ing to be ac­cepted into the As­sis­tant Phar­ma­cist Pro­gram at 24 juin,” she ad­mit­ted.

Now that she’s got a lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with that in­ter­est­ing age group, one that she was un­til very re­cently a mem­ber of, Brit­tany has ad­justed the youth cen­ter’s ac­tiv­i­ties ac­cord­ingly. “Usu­ally, when I used to plan ac­tiv­i­ties for the teens, they wouldn’t want to do them. So now we do what­ever the kids want,” ex­plained Brit­tany about her new strategy. “We could rent a movie, go slid­ing at the Stone Cir­cle in the winter, or play Wii games. We might go over to Bant­ing Park, have a wa­ter bal­loon fight. We only have two hours to­gether so we can’t go far; we’re thank­ful Bant­ing Park and the Stone Cir­cle are nearby.”

“The kids de­cide what they are in the mood to do and I won’t force them to do any­thing. It’s their youth cen­tre, there for them. I just try to keep ev­ery­one happy.”

“I re­ally like get­ting the chance to in­ter­act with teens from my com­mu­nity, even if it can get a lit­tle crazy, some- times. And it’s im­por­tant that they have a place they can go to and just have fun. I’m not go­ing to lie, when there are ten kids here, it’s a lot to han­dle. But there’s room for more, French or English.”

The Stanstead youth cen­ter is open ev­ery Fri­day night, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm (ex­cept on ma­jor hol­i­days), in the Stanstead Cul­ture and Re­cre­ation Cen­tre at 10 Phelps Street. There is no ad­mis­sion charge and all teenagers, aged from twelve to seven­teen, are wel­come to stop in any Fri­day night.

Teen an­i­ma­tor Brit­tany But­ler, at left, with a few of her ‘charges’ at the Stanstead Youth Cen­tre last Fri­day evening.

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