City to host youth conference

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The first weekend of May 2010 is going to be a busy one at the St. Albert Inn when hundreds of youths visit the city to attend a major national youth conference.

St. Albert on Wednesday was named host city for the sixth annual Helping Canadian Kids Thrive, a youth conference sponsored by the non-profit group Thrive! the Canadian Centre for Positive Youth Development.

The conference is expected to bring together youth, teachers, community leaders, law enforcement officers and others in a meeting of the minds to talk about how our society can best foster positive living for all young people.

According to Insp. Warren Dosko of the St. Albert RCMP, the discussions jive nicely with 40 Developmental Assets, a program city council started promoting this year after studying the idea since 2007. As one of the members involved on the joint force that promotes it, he said that the conference is consistent with administration’s longstanding philosophy of building up youth.

“First and foremost, I think it recognizes all the good work that has happened in the city around the 40 Developmental Assets. From the city perspective, it means that there is some recognition nationally, that the community cares about youth and is heavily involved in positive youth development.”

The program, developed by the Search Institute based in Minneapolis, is a comprehensive and age specific tool to promote good growth by focusing on youth’s internal and external strengths, not their weaknesses. Its goal is to help support and empower youth with greater social competencies like resilience to adversity or resistance to destructive behaviours.

Patricia Howell-Blackmore, the director of communications and programs for Thrive Canada, explained the organization chose St. Albert because of its commitment to youth through that program.

“Our conference goals include connecting Canadians of all ages involved in strength-based youth development, investigating how communities can prevent crime through social development, awareness and engagement, and educating and exciting participants about what is available to support your positive youth development efforts,” Howell-Blackmore said in a press release. “We are very proud to be bringing the event to St. Albert because we feel that it is a community that is investing in its youth.”

Dosko agreed this vindicates the city’s efforts in participating in the 40 Developmental Assets program.

“From a recognition point of view at the national level, I think it means a lot for the city. It’s important that [the province]recognizes that St. Albert is a leader when it comes to youth and positive youth development. But I think it goes beyond that. It talks about St. Albert’s attitude towards crime and preventing crime. The biggest change that I’ve seen is one of engagement.”

Previous Thrive conferences have drawn around 300 participants but organizers hope to fill the hotel’s capacity of 400.

For more information about the organization or the conference, visit www.thrivecanada.ca.

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.