A group of students at Ballenas Secondary School is making headway on a plan to revitalize a park beside their school in Parksville, and it’s only one of their ideas to make their community a better place.
Grade 12 student at BSS Nic Annau, who recently won Youth of the Year at the 2012 Glassies, is the president of the Civic Action Group and one of the leaders of the Nicholls Parks Project.
The Civic Action Group was formed by students in 2011 to try and recreate what they had been doing in a Civics 11 course. The group of about 23 youth make presentations to each other weekly on political, global, local and environmental issues, have discussions and take on projects. Annau said he joined the group because he was interested in politics and wanted to learn more.
“I really just wanted to learn more about different issues in the world and how they affected us and what we could do to make a difference,” he said.
Nicholls Park (known as Burner’s Field because of its reputation as a smoker’s hang out) is the group’s main focus at the moment, an idea hatched by the group last year to revitalize the park. When Annau took over the project he enlisted the help of friend Breezy Russ, who is now also a member of the group. These two are leading the project.
To date, the students involved have made surveys about their plans for the park and approached 300 local houses for input. They then drafted a plan reflecting the feedback they got including a trail, benches, picnic tables, trees and a sign and presented it to Parksville City Council asking for $9,500 to cover the things they couldn’t do themselves.
The group was granted their request and also assigned a city liaison, Carrie-Powell-Davidson. Powell-Davidson has now attended some meetings and is helping the youth with requests, such as finding grants.
“I’m completely blown away,” Powell-Davidson said of her impression of the group. “I was speaking to the OAP (Old Age Pensioners group) the other day and I was telling them how impressed I am and I said: ‘you guys you don’t need to worry. If these kids in this Civic Action Group are any indication of our leaders tomorrow, we’re in good hands’,” she said.
Although BSS’s shop class will be making some benches and the art class will be painting garbage cans, the youth group still needs more funding to help pay for items like a large sign, and are hoping for more volunteers.
“We’re trying to get the youth to have some ownership of the park and feel like they are getting involved in the community,” Russ said, adding this will also discourage vandalism.
Other projects the Civic Action Group is working on includes a soft plastics recycling program, presentations on environmental issues to elementary students and a mock election at BSS.
The group is open to all students at BSS. For more information on the group’s project, visit their Facebook Page: Nicholls Park Revitalization Project, Twitter: Nicholls Park, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.