Alberta’s Promise and its partners stand together in their promise to create safe and caring communities for children and youth in Alberta. Keeping this promise requires many dedicated players from the business, non-profit, and municipal sectors to work together. The Town of Okotoks, an Alberta’s Promise partner since 2006, is a great example of a municipality that not only advocates for youth through policy, but also welcomes collaboration with businesses and non-profits to better support kids and their families. We hope the Okotoks example inspires innovative partnerships for kids in your community.
Okotoks recognizes the importance of developing healthy habits at a young age; as such, they provide free passes to the local recreation centre for children in grades five and eight – the ages of which correspond to a decline in regular physical activity. The town also offers a free family swim on Saturdays, strategically-timed recreation facility pass discounts, and fee assistance programs to provide incentives for kids and their families to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle. In its fourth year of partnership with Between Friends Calgary, Okotoks continues to ensure its physical activity programs are inclusive of those with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. This diversity in programming has been well-received as a way of building community, and continues to expand through strategic partnerships with local school divisions.
To further their commitment to health and wellness for its citizens, Okotoks partnered with the Municipal District of Foothills to build the Legacy Regional Field House. The facility, which boasts 130,000 square feet of recreational space, is a regional sports hub that promotes healthy lifestyles and social connectivity. It is an incredible example of the power of collaborative partnerships.
Keeping youth engaged and safe in the community is another top priority for the Town of Okotoks. The Okotoks Youth Centre gives youth a space in which to relax, do homework, and interact with other youth. The centre is free to use and open 5 days a week, and includes a TV room, computer room, and games room filled with arcade and billiard games. To further encourage involvement in positive activities with peers, teens are given exclusive access to the aquatics centre, gymnasium, and youth centre on Friday evenings.
Partner organizations in the community have been key contributors to the well-being of children and youth in Okotoks. One partner, the Okotoks Rotary Club, provides many wonderful programs and events for youth. The Rotary Club runs an annual Soap Box Derby for over 100 community children ages 9 to 14 to encourage fun community involvement, and offers youth exchange programs and school scholarships to enhance the education experience. In addition, the Rotary Club has partnered with the Town of Okotoks and the Western Wheel – a local newspaper – to sponsor the Leaders of Tomorrow award, which recognizes outstanding young people who are devoted to helping others, and who have made significant contributions to their community.
Another successful partnership for The Town of Okotoks has been with Community Futures Highwood, a non-profit organization that offers business-focused programs catered to children ages 13 and up. These programs range from one-week summer camps (Alberta Youth Entrepreneurship Camp) to in-class business planning workshops, and allow kids the opportunity to develop leadership skills while becoming familiar with the basics of business.
Business is the focus of another great initiative. Lemonade Day, which took place on June 13, was an interactive program that taught youth how to start and operate their own business: a lemonade stand. With guidance from parents, mentors and comprehensive program materials, kids learned how to set goals, create a business plan, manage finances, and provide quality customer service. Lemonade Day also taught the importance of giving back to the community, as the program rests on three essential pillars: Save Some, Spend Some, Share Some. Visit http://okotoks.lemonadeday.org/ to learn more and find out how your business or organization can become involved in this one-of-a-kind learning experience for youth.
Alberta’s Promise would like to acknowledge and thank the Town of Okotoks and its partners for creating meaningful opportunities for the next generation, and for providing the catalysts to help youth reach their full potential. If your business is looking for a way to give back and get noticed within your community, contact Alberta’s Promise today.