Community Leaders and Students Leaders Come Together for a Vital Conversation

On Friday, March 12, the Lac du Bonnet & District Charitable Foundation in partnership with Community Foundations of Canada and the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge hosted a Vital Conversation via Zoom.

The purpose of this event was to bring youth and community leaders together to discuss vital needs in our community and how youth can help.

Students: Hailey Metcalf, Alex Wazny, Lily Hodgeson, and Teagen Crockett

Students: Hailey Metcalf, Alex Wazny, Lily Hodgeson, and Teagen Crockett

There were 16 community leaders representing 11 organizations involved in the conversation along with 10 student leaders from LDBSS.  Principal Chrissy Viznaugh and teacher Becky Reynolds also helped behind the scenes at the high school.

Community participants included Reeve Loren Schinkel from the RM of Lac du Bonnet, Town Councillor Keegan Sveinson and representatives from the LDB Foundation, RBC Future Launch program, Centennial School, HEROS Alliance, LDB Youth Centre, Two Rivers Senior Council, LDB Lions Club, Mrs. Lucci’s, and Winnipeg River Community Futures. There were other organizations that had expressed interest but were unable to attend the event.

Facilitated by LDB Foundation board member, Laverne Wojciechowski, the Vital Conversation followed a set format that had students and community leaders sharing ideas in both small group and whole group sessions.

The Vital Conversation was based on three key questions generated lots of discussion and many ideas.  The questions were:

  • What is working well in our community and what are some key challenges that we face?
  • Which challenges are youth uniquely positioned to help improve?
  • How can youth leadership be fostered and supported in meeting these challenges?

According to Linda Davidow, representative for the RBC Future Launch program, “The students were well prepared, had interesting perspectives, and the community leaders in attendance were able to listen and truly hear what youth are looking for from their community and community leaders.”

Some general themes and specific projects that emerged from the discussion included:

  • Community development to create greater cultural opportunities for youth, further development of the water front, and more diverse recreational activities for all.
  • Creating greater wheelchair accessibility along the waterfront, to businesses, and through the development of more walking paths in town.
  • Economic development to bring more people to the Lac du Bonnet area, increase job experiences and provide greater opportunity for youth employment.
  • Developing youth leadership skills through mentorship programs, volunteerism, training, work experience programs, and direct involvement with community organizations.
  • Providing a structure within the community for youth voice to be included.

When asked what went well with today’s discussion, Dave Ogren, Principal of Centennial School said, “The student voices! The student leaders in my break-out room were certainly the dominant voices and they had good ideas. In the whole group setting, I loved the varied perspectives we got from the youth leaders: athletics, arts, culture, volunteering, community.

I also liked that some of the adults involved jumped on acting immediately. It’s easy to have good ideas and hard, sometimes, to act on them.”

Although lots of ideas were brought forward in a short space of time, an important outcome of Friday’s Vital Conversation was a definite desire for community organizations and youth leaders to come together again at a future date to continue the conversation and create a more specific plan for youth voice and involvement in our community. Something do-able. Something tangible. The planning for this next step is already underway.

At the end of the day, LDBSS teacher, Becky Reynolds said it best. “It brings me joy to learn that our youth made an impact today. They make me proud. Each and every one. Each and every day. And, they represent only a small fraction of the voices, talents, ideas, and personalities filling the hallways, classrooms, fields, and courts of LDBSS. Thank you for the platform and opportunity.”