This year the Get Out! youth program has welcomed back a graduate of the program as a volunteer youth leader. Michelle is a great example of someone who turned her own life around with the help of the opportunities available for youth in the region.
It’s not something you can spot right away, but there’s something different about this year’s Get Out! Youth camping event, a Metro Vancouver initiative now in it’s sixth year.
For the first time ever the event has welcomed back a graduate of the program, as a volunteer leader.
“Michelle has been a participant in Get Out! for the last three years,” says Jeremy Plotnik, Special & Community Events Organizer for Metro Vancouver. “We limit participation to three (years) so more children can have the opportunity. But Michelle approached us and said ‘is there any way I can come and participate?’ so we thought this would be a great way for her to come back and demonstrate a leadership role here at Get Out!.”
Michelle is a great example of a young person who turned her life around with the help of one of the many programs available to youth in our region.
“Michelle came into our program when she was about twelve years old,” says Chris Eastman, City of Port Coquitlam Youth Services Program Coordinator. “And we definitely had some issues around her behaviour and her choices.”
“I just used to get up to trouble,” explains Michelle. “I drank a lot, I had a very negative feeling, I was a ‘rebel’ you could say. By going to Get Out! and getting all the support I was given, I eventually changed.”
Along the way, Michelle discovered a love for volunteering.
“I volunteer at the pool. I also volunteer at the youth centre in Port Coquitlam. We helped do a community garden. And recently I helped with a barbeque at Hyde Creek. If feels good to give back to the community because I’ve received so much from the community and I just like helping others.”
“Last year I went to the Tri-City youth awards,” says Michelle with evident pride, “and I was given an award. This year I got an award from the City of Port Coquitlam for volunteering.”
“It’s amazing,” says Eastman. “And she’s not just volunteering with Get Out!. She’s also volunteering with the city in terms of our youth centre and at the pool teaching kids and she just recently gained a position with the city as an aquatic attendant. I couldn’t ask for more. We are really proud of her.”
There are youth programs offered in most municipalities. It’s usually only a matter of a few phone calls or some time online to find out what is available. Metro Vancouver’s programs are explained in detail at metrovancouver.org.
Really what it comes down to is you get out what you put in,” says Eastman. “And I think that’s true of anything you do in life. There are some awesome opportunities for youth if they look for them and commit themselves to them.”
“It makes me feel good,” explains Michelle. “I feel like I am making a change in the world and I feel way better. Four years ago you couldn’t see that I was happy, but now I am truly happy with who I am.”