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Wainwright & District
Family and Community Services—  Building Community  —

Youth Programs & Resources

Youth Resiliency Project

Submitted by Cathy Charlton, Wainwright & District Family & Community Services

Every so often the magic of a partnership starts to blossom and we figure out that if we focus our efforts; pool our resources of time, money and expertise; we can do extraordinary things for the people we are all charged with serving. Here is an example of an extraordinary partnership.

Late in 2008 the Vermilion River Region Healthy Communities Coalition (VRRHCC) and the Wainwright and Area Social Action Committee (WASAC) found out that their joint application for Community Initiative Funding under Health Canada’s ‘Drug Strategy’ had been approved. Both of the interagency coalitions meet regularly and have some common members who have service delivery areas that span across a large geographic area in East Central Alberta. Other members of the coalitions, such as FCSS have a much smaller and local service focus. The memberships of both coalitions are aware of the challenges being faced by the youth of our communities and so the focus of our joint project is Positive Youth Development – based on the 40 Developmental Assets (Search Institute) as a foundation for a community wide approach for awareness and action. The project focuses on supporting and fostering the mentorship roles of parents, teachers and coaches and more generally to connect with anyone who can be a positive influence for our youth.

But this is about the partnership…Both the VRRHCC and the WASAC have broad based membership from a multitude of locally and regionally based agencies which include two regional school divisions, Alberta Health Services: Health Promotions and Mental Health and Addiction (the agency formerly known as AADAC), Family School Liaison, Family and Community Support Service, RCMP, CFSA, etc. Both coalitions are self sufficient within their local area and have their own terms of reference and local priorities. Prior to this project we had not worked together.

While we have many things in common there are some differences between the two coalitions. One of the most notable is the manner in which FCSS is structured to meet our own local needs. In the Wainwright area we have a multi municipal agreement that has established our FCS program to deliver programs. The VRRHCC has three participating FCSS programs one that does mostly service delivery and the two other programs that fund many external programs and projects. There tends to be more active participation by elected municipal representatives in the VRRHCC area.

A Project Steering Committee was established with membership from both coalitions to oversee this project. One of our first orders of business was to establish terms of reference; which have guided the project and our relationship. We are more than two thirds of the way into the project time frame and are becoming increasingly aware that the three years allotted are only going to be a good beginning to our work. This is a very unique and ambitious partnership that has brought federal funding and involvement to our area. From an FCSS perspective this has been a great opportunity to work with agencies and organizations in an adjoining geographic area on a project that is much larger than anything any of us would have ever considered taking on within our respective agencies.

This broad based community development initiative has transcended the pitfalls of many partnerships by staying very focused on what we want to accomplish and who we want to see benefit from our efforts. We know how important it is to make a difference in the life of our youth. We have needed our collective efforts and wisdom to move the project forward. Fewer agencies and less diversity would have been detrimental to a project this ambitious in scope. All of the partners to the Youth Resiliency project have given very generously of their time and have also contributed in kind; be it in staffing hours, financial and HR administration; or providing office space and phones. Our partnership is much more than the sum of its partners.

Some attributes of our partnership that have made it successful are:

  • Joint ownership of the issues combined with joint development of the project.
  • Agreement and focus on who we are serving: youth, families and community.
  • Significant ‘in kind’ contribution of partners above and beyond the grant funding.

If you have been in the FCSS realm for enough years, you realize that effective partnerships are like a garden; the most important thing that you can do daily is plant the seeds to foster, develop and maintain good relationships with others. Every once in a while the right conditions come together for a terrific partnership to bloom into something far beyond our expectations!

2011 Family Services Directory

The development and distribution of a Family Services Directory for families with preschool children to be used to explore and be more informed of the existing programs and services available to them. Copies are available at Wainwright Family and Community Services.

Alternatively, you may download and print the PDF, 2011 Family Services Directory

For more information about FCS Youth Programs, please…

Contact: | Cathy Charlton

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