Local News The Baddeck Lions have a youthful aim for this year's Christmas fundraiser
Annual Lions Club dinner raising funds in support of local youth group
Long-time Baddeck Lions Club member Bill Smith says that in all the club meetings he’s attended, fellow Lion Reverend Brian Macleod has never asked for anything from the organization. This year, the Lions voted to donate proceeds from their annual ‘Tis the Season’ fundraiser to the two youth groups Macleod organizes. The dinner, dance and silent auction takes place on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Inverary Resort. Free will donations will also be accepted.
Macleod has been a tireless supporter of local youth since taking up his post as Reverend of Knox Presbyterian Church in Baddeck and Ephraim Scott Memorial Presbyterian Church in South Haven, six years ago.
“I grew up in Montague, PEI. We had a youth group and I vowed that wherever I went, it was going to be my priority to work with youth,” says Macleod.
Four years ago, Macleod launched the Baddeck Youth Group (BYG) for ages four through ten. It began with four kids and now has 45 registered. The Baddeck Youth Group for Teens (BYGT) began two years ago for kids ages 10 through 16. It now has 20 teens regularly attending. The program is set expand to other communities.
Macleod wishes to stress no proselytizing takes place in the program.
“It’s not a church thing. It’s just a youth group. We use the church hall for us to have a place to go. The program is all about letting kids be themselves and have a safe place. As you know, there’s not a lot of safe places for kids now. It’s a place where they don’t have to worry about putting some persona on.”
Macleod has seen a rise in all forms of bullying since he arrived six years ago. He hopes the program provides youth the opportunity to open up about mental health concerns and speak up if they feel they are being bullied by peers or adults. In conversations with youth, he has found them hesitant to come forward if they experience bullying, for fear of being labeled a snitch.
BYG and BYGT is one place where bullying via social media is at least put on hold – no smartphones allowed during youth group gatherings and outings, only face-to-face conversation.
Macleod’s goal is to model good values and offer opportunities for kids beyond traditional competitive sports.
Programming includes field trips to hockey games and bowling, arts and crafts, cooking classes, and guest speakers, including the RCMP and EHS. The Department of Environment once presented on the importance of recycling.
Community service is a priority activity. The youth have raked yards for people in the community, helped with the local food bank and made sure there were gifts under every kid’s Christmas tree. This November, the teen group will play cards with seniors once a month.
“Kids realize that if they're going to get something, they need to give it back to the community. It's a very important thing,” says Macleod.
Macleod will deliver a talk during the Dec. 1 event about the value of growing up in a small community and creating a fostering environment where kids can thrive.
Tickets are $20 and will go on sale soon at various locations around Baddeck and from individual Lions Club members.
Follow “BYG Youth Group Baddeck” on Facebook for more information.