Gail Logan and Bridget Manahan appeared as a delegation of two at council late Tuesday afternoon asking for funding under the Municipal Grants program. Logan, with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lanark County (BBBSLC) let Manahan, Manager of Youth Services with the We Are Kids (WAK) program, lead the way.
Manahan said the main purpose of the program was to give kids a safe, inclusive and welcoming place to come, to be involved in an activity, to get a snack, and, in the process, to create positive mental health attitudes.
So far the program has served 155 youth, who have visited 2,351 times; the male/female divide is close to equal. There is a core group, she continued, of kids between six and 10 who visit three to four times a week
There are funders and partners for the program; the Town of Smiths Falls is a funder as well as a host partner, and Lanark County is also a funder, as are various service agencies.
Manahan explained that expenses are minimal — she is full time and there are two part-timers.
In the presentation, Manahan described what the kids do — they work in the kitchen prepping, cooking, eating a meal and then cleaning up; the kids set up a canteen during the Smiths Falls Art Show this past summer, they cleaned up areas around the arenas, they painted over graffiti at the skate board park, and they continually participate in art projects. All of the recyclables they pick up, they use for art masterpieces displayed at REAL. They also go out on field trips.
Manahan explained that in the near future, in order to reach everybody they can, their intent is to distribute three surveys to parents and youth in partnership with schools.
“We’re not reaching all we hope to,” she said. The aim of the surveys, she adds, will be to point to the gaps and enable WAK to get the kids what they need. To learn more about WAK, go to https://lanark.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/story/youth-school-program/