A group of Semiahmoo Peninsula youth are taking their plans to create a safe, inclusive space in White Rock to the next level.
But they need help.
Members of the White Rock Youth Collective, as well as other volunteer youths, will be submitting a video and application in the hopes of being chosen as recipients of $100,000 from the Aviva Community Fund.
The group plans to use the money, if they are chosen, to create an accessible youth space in the heart of the Semiamoo Peninsula, somewhere between White Rock’s Whaling Wall and 20 Avenue in South Surrey.
“We have some ideas for the space,” said Alexandra Neighbourhoood House youth and family worker Jessie Kergan, who has been helping the group see their project come to fruition. “We’re going back to (White Rock) city council on Sept. 29 to present our budget and funding proposal, and we’ve been looking at some spaces and our aim is to have somewhere by January.”
With the help of cinephile and budding filmmaker Daleal Monjazeb, 17, the youth group created two films – an informational one for Aviva Community Fund and another that acts as a teaser or trailer for the space.
“I’ve always been passionate about filming and movies,” Monjazeb said. “We went to the skatepark and filmed skateboarders, BMXers and just captured the real community.
“It’s a project that doesn’t only affect youth. It gets everybody involved on so many different levels.”
The decision to create the youth space came after surveying local youth nearly two years ago. What came back was a desire for a place that provided teens with ways to use their free time appropriately.
“We live in a world where things are very desensitized. Kids are younger when they start getting involved with different vices,” Monjazeb said. “I’ve been there, I know lots of people who have been there. And it’s so much harder when kids really don’t have much to do.
“In this world, where there is so much stimulation, if that stimulation isn’t positive, it can be dangerous.”
The teen recalled a recent movie he watched on gangs from the 1980s. While watching, he realized how at the core of all the young gangsters was a desire to have a community amongst themselves.
“Every time I thought of gangs, I thought of drugs, violence. But to some people that just means a gang of friends. It’s about belonging somewhere. Kids just want to feel like they belong somewhere,” he said.
The contest and voting will go live on Sept. 29. There are three qualifying rounds, however Kergen and Monjazeb are hopeful they will get enough votes in the first round to move on to semifinals.
“So this space is a perfect opportunity to give kids that sense of belonging.”
If the group receives the $100,000, the funds will be used to secure the space, hire staff and renovate. However, Kergen also hopes the community will step in to lend a helping hand.
“This is really a project for our community, so it would be nice to have people step in and offer what they can,” she said.
To view the video or cast your vote for the contest (staring Sept. 29), visit www.avivacommunityfund.org