New Westminster's New Youth Centre Engages a Range of Ages
New Westminster youth were in need of a safe, fun and affordable place to connect with friends in the community, while seniors from the Century House Recreation Centre for adults over fifty had expressed interest in gaining access to new amenities, such as a computer lab. The City’s Youth Advisory Committee had advocated for a Youth Centre since 2003; however, neither the funding nor appropriate location were available.
The City decided to address both the youth and seniors’ needs simultaneously by building a 4,000 square foot co-located Youth Centre with Century House Recreation Centre. New Westminster opened the doors of the Youth Centre on September 15, 2010, providing a dedicated space to youth (between the ages of thirteen to eighteen) and access to seniors (outside of the peak hours for youth). Through the development of the Youth Centre, the Youth Services and Century House partnership has allowed for a unique intergenerational relationship to form.
Partnerships and Stakeholders
- City of New Westminster
- Government of Canada- Western Economic Diversification Canada
- Youth Facility Space Advisory Task Force
- Youth Advisory Committee
- Century House Association
- The Youth Centre @ Moody Park Fundraising Committee
Summary of the Process
Research, Consultation and Site Selection
The City engaged in an intensive consultation process to determine the location and design of the Youth Centre. A study on Youth Services/Space was conducted in 2003, and another Youth and Seniors Facilities and Services Study culminated in 2006. Both helped to address the barriers to implementing this project.
Research indicated that an addition to Century House, situated in Moody Park, was the best location for the Youth Centre. As the park was within walking distance of New Westminster Secondary School, youth were very familiar with the location. Also, by co-locating the Youth Centre with Century House, seniors would be given access to a number of new amenities offered by the Youth Centre.
A Youth Facility Task Force, comprised of youth, seniors, and community members, helped to brainstorm the design, location, and fundraising campaigns for the project. The Task Force engaged in a two-day session with an architect to discuss the development and implementation of the Youth Centre.
In addition to municipal and federal government funding for the construction of the Youth Centre, the Youth Centre @ Moody Park Fundraising Committee created a goal of raising $200,000 to pay for furnishings and equipment. Local individuals, service clubs, businesses, and third party fundraising events contributed to this campaign, while a senior in the community nominated the Youth Centre for a voting contest hosted by Kraft Canada and TSN. This online contest was an extraordinary success as the Youth Centre submission rallied 60,000 online votes, and the project was awarded the prize of $25,000. In less than eighteen months, the Committee exceeded their goal and raised $215,539.
The facility offers a number of services and amenities including:
- computer lab;
- lounge with electronics and video games;
- multi-purpose activity space;
- counseling services for youth and families;
- exercise room equipped with cardio and weight lifting machines; and,
- various activities such as dance, art, knitting or cooking classes.
Youth pay a nominal fee to access the Youth Centre. Youth who cannot afford the membership fee are able to volunteer in exchange. There are also shared amenities used by seniors during the day time.
Outcomes and Impacts
Many intergenerational programs are offered at the facility, including the Meeting in the Middle forum to celebrate similarities and differences; Heart to Art where youth, seniors, and an artist partner to develop an art workshop; and a monthly dinner bringing together between 30 to 50 youth and seniors.
With the Youth Centre open from 9am to 9pm or later, residents feel the community is safer because of the bright lights and large windows, creating the sense that someone is always watching over the neighbourhood.
Key to Success
Community engagement was key to fundraising. In support of the Kraft Canada and TSN online voting contest (2010 winners), there was an overnight voting sleepover, a bus transporting seniors to a school in shifts to use computers to vote, and a car with informative decals travelling through the town to raise awareness.
For more information, please contact:
Manager of Youth and Seniors Services