In Our Words: Give the kids something to do

It’s summer in Flin Flon and the youth are getting restless. What are our young people going to do once school lets out?

Social media in Flin Flon seems to be full of stories of property damage, thefts and worry about “those kids”. Often times, they’re tied to criminality – everyone has their own information, anecdotes and stories regarding property crime, with their own assumptions that it’s always youth involved, that alcohol and drug use plays a role, all that. I don’t know any of that for sure, and in all likelihood, neither do you.

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But ignoring crime gossip, youth boredom manifests itself in other ways. Bored or lonely kids may not have a chance to live up to their full potential.

How do you fix that problem? By tightening up the grip of John Law on young people? By treating every young person with suspicion? That doesn’t seem all that reasonable.

Go right to the source. If you think youth crime is an issue, why not provide something new for at-risk youth to do?

In this community and in the region as a whole, we need to give youth an outlet, something engaging, something in school or an extracurricular in the summer months, something to occupy the time for kids in a constructive way.

I know some people see that sentence and say, “Pfft, there’s plenty for these kids today.” Not all of them, no. Not every family can afford a winter of hockey or even a summer of baseball or soccer. People act out when they’re bored. If you have nothing to do and nothing that gives you purpose in life at large, all responsibilities and morality begins to slip. Poverty gives way to stress and fear for adults and, often times, boredom for kids.

There’s help out there on this front, but you have to look for it. For the past couple of years, the Flin Flon School Division has operated a hockey academy for kids who may not be otherwise able to hit the ice to learn basics of the sport as part of phys-ed. The city runs a number of youth programs, including Summer in the Parks, which provide something structured for kids to let loose after school lets out.

In the pages of this week’s issue, you’ll find a story about a locally organized hockey camp coming up this summer. In that story, you’ll find the main goals of the camp – namely, to promote inclusion in the community and give the kids a chance to learn lessons from sports they may not otherwise have. It’s an excellent message, allowing kids to not only learn something constructive from instructors and peers alike, giving the kids something useful to use later on.

That said, some of these things do have a cost – either in time or money. What do you do when at least one of those things is short?

I feel we need options for families without any cash to spare to have outdoor recreation in an at least partially organized way. Let’s say, a summer basketball league on one of the many outdoor courts in Flin Flon or Creighton, or an organized road hockey game every few days on a side street or at a bunk. School team sports don’t really start in earnest in Flin Flon or Creighton until junior high and most sports end when school’s out – there’s obviously a void. Fill it with something.

Flin Flon loves its arts community, and the arts community loves Flin Flon – what about providing arts supplies and a space to use them for any kid interested in putting together something? What about a kids’ writing workshop? Crafting? Music training? So what if it doesn’t produce the next Van Gogh – helping someone who may be otherwise unable to express themselves constructively is always good. How about, instead of spray-painting a building or a house, spend a little time and forethought and paint a canvas? Even tagging a rock cut is a start.

Do you want to help youth issues in Flin Flon? Start at the root of the problem and give the kids something to do. Even in the worst case scenario, you end up with more happy kids – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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