Friday fun for Stanstead teens
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.