Grade 10 students from the five secondary schools in the Vernon School District have been chosen to take part in the youth ambassador program for this week’s Greater Vernon B.C. Winter Games.

Grade 10 students from the five secondary schools in the Vernon School District have been chosen to take part in the youth ambassador program for this week’s Greater Vernon B.C. Winter Games.

North Okanagan youth play a part in B.C. Winter Games

27 Grade 10 students from five Vernon School District secondary schools are youth ambassadors for the B.C. Winter Games...

Dawn Tyndall

For The Morning Star

In a few days, more than 2,000 volunteers will play host to more than 1,800 participants during the Greater Vernon 2012 B.C. Winter Games.

A unique number of those volunteers will be 27 Grade 10 students from Seaton Secondary, Kalamalka Secondary, Vernon Secondary, Clarence Fulton Secondary and Charles Bloom Secondary in Lumby, taking part in the Youth Ambassador Program that was developed due to a loss of funding for the youth academy that was formerly part of the B.C. Winter Games.

Shelley Duggan, chairperson of the Youth Ambassador Program, was already in place as that chair, and so in discussion with the B.C. Games Society, she simply changed the focus to develop local youth leadership under the umbrella of Community Development.

“I had a vision, shared it with our special events committee and a few other contacts, and the Youth Ambassador Program came to be,” said Duggan.

Said B.C. Winter Games special events director, Christine Kashuba: “The goal of this program is to encourage youth volunteerism, and to develop local youth leadership, and Shelley is certainly making that happen.”

The youth ambassadors have taken part in two afternoon workshops in November and December, and one full day in January. This program was fortunate to partner with Dave Fehr, teacher at Kalamalka Secondary, and his Students Without Borders class for the workshops.

Duggan was thrilled about the partnership.

“My daughter was in his class the previous year, and so I called Dave to ask for his input, and bounce a few ideas off him when I was putting together the program,” said Duggan. “A few days later he called and said ‘what if his leadership students lead the workshops – you tell me what you want, we will facilitate.’ It was a great win-win for both the leadership students and the youth ambassadors.”

The student workshops included the following curriculum: Workshop #1 – The culture of distraction & how to stay on track, leadership activities; Workshop #2 –  Character & Qualities of a Leader; Workshop #3 had facilitator Shirley Higgins taking the students through The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a non-judgmental process that allows people to gain understanding of their preferences, particularly with respect to energy source, information gathering, decisions making and lifestyle/work patterns.

They also discussed the importance of volunteering and community involvement, and how to present themselves, from a smile to how they are dressed.

The goal/vision behind the ambassador program is to take students who were not in leadership programs but that had great potential and just needed an opportunity to grow, to be inspired.

The focus is to get them to see and understand how getting involved with their community and volunteering can lead to so many more opportunities – meeting new people who are connected in the community, mentors, contacts for future employment, being asked to participate in other events, have a sense of pride and ownership in their community, networking, contacts and experience that can shape their future careers.

Angus Gobelle, 15, a student from Charles Bloom Secondary, was excited to be told he was nominated and won the chance to be involved.

“It’s a really cool opportunity to get out into the community and help out,” said Gobelle.

Added Megan Benischek 15, a student from Kalamalka Secondary: “It’s great to get out and volunteer because I’m kind of shy and this program will help me be less shy.”

The 27 students will be volunteering at the volunteer and accreditation event on Feb. 21, and be part of the opening ceremonies.

They also will have a special dinner meeting with Kelly Mann, CEO of the B.C. Games Society, and assist with the participant special events on the Friday and Saturday night.