Jared Walmark, left, and Jose hope are Parksville Downtown Business Association’s 2018 youth ambassadors. Karly Blats photo

Downtown Youth Ambassadors back in Parksville lending helping hand

Jose Hope and Jared Walmark hit the streets five days a week to help tourists, residents

The 2018 Parksville Downtown Business Association’s (PDBA) youth ambassadors are back in the downtown core to help visitors and residents find everything they need.

Jose Hope, 18, and Jared Walmark, 17, are on the streets five days a week (Monday to Friday) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. offering advice and collecting information on tourists that they will present to Parksville city council at the end of summer. The team will also direct guests to downtown businesses and touch base with PDBA members throughout the 10-week program.

The program is now in it’s fourth year and Pamela Bottomley, PDBA executive director, said the goal is to get people circulating though downtown.

“Our downtown is split by the highway so it’s not automatically obvious to people in the park that there’s services and resources up here,” Bottomley said.

Hope and Walmark both come to the program from Bellenas Secondary School, Hope having graduated this year and Walmark heading back in September for his final year.

Hope said one reason he became interested in being a youth ambassador was to gain experience interacting with a diverse range of people before moving to Vancouver in September.

“I wanted to get first-hand experience talking to people from different places so when I do move to Vancouver it’s a lot easier to get out and talk to people and not be shy about it,” Hope said.

Hope, who was born in Columbia and moved to Parksville at age five, will attend Nimbus School of Recording Arts to study music engineering with a goal to become a music producer and technician.

He says he’s good for the position because of his second language and ability to understand people.

“I know Spanish, I know how to talk to people who don’t really know English very well because my mother has a pretty thick accent so I’m really well at understanding people who don’t have English as their second language or even third,” he said. “I’m also very open to talking to people. If someone wants to talk to me and just let out whatever they want to let out I’m very open and I’m very accepting and I wont judge them.”

Hope added that he’s great at persuading people to visit the downtown core and giving recommendations on what to do or eat in the area.

Walmark, who grew up in Parksville, was interested in the youth ambassador program to gain more knowledge about the town he grew up in and it’s businesses.

“I wanted to learn how businesses would get together and support each other and that type of system,” Walmark said. “I wanted to get more involved in the community and help out as many tourists from everywhere.”

Walmark, who speaks both official languages, says his skills working with people throughout his life will help him in his position as a youth ambassador.

“I really enjoy talking to people and asking questions, and being asked questions,” he said. “I really enjoy learning about different people and what they like and trying to figure out what I can suggest to them so they can enjoy themselves.”

After graduation, Walmark plans to study law at the University of British Columbia.

Bottomley said being a youth ambassador is a unique summer job for young people in a professional setting.

“We are supported by Canada Summer Jobs this year which helps us fund this project,” she said. “We like to give back to our community too, and this is one way we do it. Basically it’s a mentorship project.”

Send story tips: karly.blats@pqbnews.com

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