The Woolwich Youth Centre is giving back this year, repaying the community that supports it with small acts of kindness.
“Often youth don’t think they can make a difference, but the little things make a difference,” said youth centre coordinator Kelly Robertson. “We’re not going out to save the world, but we’re trying to make a difference in our community.”
Last summer, the centre organized a series of activities around the theme of the Summer Olympics. When the school year started, they realized how much they missed having an overarching theme.
Both Robertson and coordinator Karyn Kennedy have experienced random acts of kindness in their own lives, and they thought it was a great idea to have a “pay it forward” year.
“We thought, what a great way to have the youth find attainable ways of showing people in their lives, people in the community that they want to give back to them the amount of kindness they’ve received,” Robertson said.
They started in January by watching the movie Pay it Forward, and asking the youth to suggest things they could do.
In February, Kennedy and Robertson taught the kids how to knit and got them started making scarves that will be donated to the food bank next fall. March’s activity was to go to the Wal-Mart in St. Jacobs and offer to carry bags or return carts.
Earlier this month, they gave up one of their activity nights at the centre to help set up for the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, and in June they’ll be collecting food for the food bank.
Robertson said the pay it forward idea has also helped the kids at the youth centre realize that they don’t need to go to the city or developing world to help the less fortunate.
“I think the youth are now recognizing that we have impoverished people in our own community, we have seniors needing assistance in our own community; the people we need to help are right here.”
The youth centre has a regular group of 15-25 people and 50 or 60 in total who come out Thursdays and Fridays to use the pool tables, play air hockey, computer games, Nintendo or Rock Band. The organizers also put together movie nights, bowling, swimming, guest speakers and offer homework and résumé help.