Youth-in-Action celebrates first year back with bursary presentation

The Youth-in-Action Volunteer Program at the Saskatchewan Health Authority officially wound down its first year back with a program at Pineview Terrace Lodge on Thursday.

The program started again in October of 2023 when Volunteer Services saw the first group of youth volunteers since the 2019 intake.

The 2019 group was shut down in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Three of the students in this year’s group volunteered when they were in Grade 8 and returned to volunteer in 2023-24.

Janelle Senga Manager of Volunteer Services for the SHA North said the program is a great opportunity for local youth and residents too.

“(This) is an opportunity for the youth of the community to come into the SHA facilities, work with some of the folks that live in long-term care homes, and allow them to experience the hospital setting in a safe and friendly way and just to get some experience the hospital setting in a safe and friendly way,” Senga explained.

In the first year back, 70 youth volunteered at Victoria Hospital, Herb Bassett Home and Pineview Terrace Lodge. By the end of this month, they had registered 2,780 volunteer hours.

Charlene Bernard was the volunteer coordinator for the group. She said many students just wanted to give back to the community.

“They usually came as that same group every week so we had between 12 and 20 kids depending on the day,” Bernard said. “It would fluctuate and then often some people came more than one day a week and some if they couldn't make one day would come another.

"They had their little group, but they also got to know all the other groups a little bit too.

“It’s great for kids that have an interest in healthcare and an interest in, you know, getting some work experience and something to put on the resumes,” Senga added.

The program has students from both Saskatchewan Rivers School and the Prince Albert Catholic School Division. Both divisions have created Volunteerism 30 classes for credit.

The program also had 18 youths from Big River, Birch Hills, Canwood, Cudworth, Hafford, Kinistino, Leask, Leoville and Spiritwood volunteer at local facilities and this group volunteered for over 150 hours.

"We're happy to help with that, we will happily keep of hours for students that want to pursue that credit," Senga said.

According to Bernard, many of the students are already halfway through the credit.

At the ceremony, all the volunteers were presented certificates indicating the number of hours they volunteered and seven Grade 12 students were awarded bursaries.

The Hannah and Hudson Bursaries donated by Joe and Bev Remai were awarded to Jemima Jacy Alasagas of Prince Albert and Karstin Soucy of Leoville.

Five Victoria Hospital Bursaries, which were donated by the former Victoria Hospital Ladies Auxillary and Burkitt’s Floral were awarded to Laurel Androsoff, Iseoluwa Bamimore, Alexa Golding and Nandini Khatri of Prince Albert and Sara Olsen of Big River.

To receive a bursary, students submitted an essay about their goals and their experience with the Youth-in-Action program. The applicant's hours, attendance independence, initiative, enthusiasm, leadership skills, interpersonal skills, professionalism, personal growth and financial need were all considered in the selection.

According to Senga, picking the bursary winners was a challenge because there were so many worthy students.

“We created a rubric, and we looked at things like leadership, demonstrated growth over the year, attendance, attitude, and professionalism,” Senga explained. “We had a whole series of categories that we looked at and from that we came up with our recipients.”

Senga said the experience was great this year and the staff are appreciative of all of the youth volunteers. Bernard said it was a great experience for her too.

"For me, this was my first year in this leading the youth and so and it was the first year back with the program and it was fun learning together,” Bernard said.

If youth between 14 and 18 are interested in volunteering for Youth-in-Action for fall 2024 contact Volunteer Services in Prince Albert a 306-765-6119 or for more information.

Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald