Ucluelet’s Youth Program co-ordinator Toni Buston kicks off a friendly game of foosball during an open house event on April 3. The Youth Room offers a chill space for students to hang out after school. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Ucluelet’s weekly drop in youth programs in bloom

“Hopefully the kids will take advantage of it.”

Ucluelet’s new youth program co-ordinator Toni Buston wants all local teens to know that she’s here for them, and happy to facilitate whatever activities they want to do.

While the Youth Room at the Ucluelet Community Centre—next to the library—is open for after school drop-in sessions on Monday to Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. and Thursdays from 3-8p.m. for dinner and a movie night, Buston said it’s really up to the youth to drive the programming.

“I know it’s hard to compete with kids’ phones and couches,” said Buston.

“But, I think, parents pushing them out the door and getting them to come out will be a big start.”

Buston, who has lived in Ucluelet on and off her whole life, said USS students should see the Youth Room as an opportunity to broaden their interests.

“They can come and go as they please as well. They don’t have to be here for the whole time,” she notes.

The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust’s 2018 Vital Signs Report revealed that when youth were asked what they do not like about living on the West Coast, the top response was the lack of opportunities and activities.

READ: Cost of living going up while wages are going down in Tofino and Ucluelet

Kayaking with Hello Nature Adventure Tours, stand up paddling with Relic, free yoga, camping trips, filmmaking, and art workshops are just some of the upcoming activities planned for the Youth Room’s spring schedule.

The Youth Program is partnering with the Pacific Rim Arts Society (PRAS) this spring to offer the kids art labs led by local PRAS artists, which will build up to a youth art exhibit.

“We’re really excited for that. To be able to partner with PRAS is huge. Hopefully the kids will take advantage of it,” said Buston.

“Snacks are provided too,” she adds. “The kids always show up hungry so we try to provide them with some healthy food. Zoe’s graciously donates their end of day goodies to us.”

Anyone interested in learning more about Youth Programs and the Youth Room is encouraged to pick up a copy of Ucluelet Parks and Recreation spring program guide, join the ‘Ukee Youth Room’ Facebook Page or follow ‘ukeeyouth’ on Instagram.

“Be open minded and give it a chance,” said Buston.

“It’s meant to be a youth driven program here. The youth can really drive what the funding is going towards.”

READ: First Nations youth Warrior Program revives cultural teachings

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