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

The Victoria Standard - - Front Page - CAROLYN BAR­BER

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.

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