In the Alberta municipality of Strathcona County, support from the CPRA Youth Employment Experience Program allowed the community to hire Quinn Pederson and Taylor Curnew as their Rural Development and Outreach Coordinators.
Together, Quinn and Taylor to support the well-being of youth and young adults in the County. “I support rural communities and youth and young adults in those communities by specifically creating programming and doing events that help them connect with each other and the spaces in their communities” Quinn says. “We did outreach events and we’re trying to find ways to better include the youth and make them feel like they belong in the community” Taylor adds.
Quinn and Taylor also connected with organizations in Strathcona County that support youth. In Quinn’s words, “We connect very closely with community halls in the county. These are run by volunteers who are not-for-profit. They use the money that goes right back into their halls. We also connect with NextGen, which is a grassroots organization that helps promote the next generation of youth and young adults and give a voice for them in their community.”
Both Outreach Coordinators have also had the opportunity to work closely with the local Boys and Girls Club. “We’ve been doing cross promotion where we promote their stuff at our farmer’s markets and at our events and then they’ve also been promoting our events” Taylor says.
Part of Quinn and Taylor’s role as Outreach Coordinators is to support community outreach. “We go to farmer’s markets almost every week in two small communities and we hand out promotional materials about events going on in the community, support, mental health resources, and just information about what’s going on” they note.
Not only do Quinn and Taylor participate in community events, but they create their own as well. “I’m working on the community hall pop-ups. They’re programming in small communities that is accessible to youth and young adults,” says Quinn. Taylor adds “I put on three themed roller-skating nights at our recreation centre in Ardrossan. We have a youth lounge which is like a video game room which we’ve been trying to really revitalise because it’s very underutilised. We’ve bought in board games and hosted a paint night, trivia and a few extra activities in that space as well.”
Bringing their own skills to the community, Quinn and Taylor have used social media to promote their events. “We use mostly Instagram and Facebook to promote all our events. We have also talked about using targeted ads and radio ads as well” they say.
As aligned with the overarching goal of the CPRA Youth Employment Experience program, both Quinn and Taylor have built their skills through hands-on work and mentorship opportunities. “This is actually my first official job with a computer and working in the community. It has really helped me gain those skills like administration skills, sending emails and updates” Quinn says. “Also, our supervisors have set up a learning session with people that they work with who are very knowledgeable in the areas that we’re looking to gain knowledge in.
Our supervisors have a very good balance of being supportive and also letting us figure things out for ourselves which I really appreciate.”
Taylor adds “This job gave us so many different really cool opportunities of planning our own events. I got to sit in meetings for the Ardrossan Parade and Picnic which is a huge event out here so seeing how that’s done and organized across big groups. I got to see how different groups in our community work together because we worked with Aris and they were a real action team so I got lots of hands-on experience with communications, planning, and organization which I think are valuable skills for anything in the future.”
Through community farmer’s markets, social media, and their own events, Quinn and Taylor have helped Strathcona County reach out to youth and help them connect with the people and spaces in their community.