Posted by Colin Heggie on Mar 10, 2020
Sara Morgan (L) is Program Coordinator for Teen Junction in Vernon, & Sarah MacKinnon (R) is a Regional Director of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Okanagan.  BGCO “adopted” Teen Junction at the request of the Literacy Society in about 2017, bringing extensive experience & partnerships in running a wide variety of youth programs.  Teen Junction is open to 13 to 19 year olds, Monday to Friday, from 3:30pm to 7:30pm, with two staff members offering services, typically including kitchen prep instruction, a hot meal, employment & job search help, computer skills, games, discussions, individual support, & sometimes just a safe place to hang out.  From an average of 11 to 15 daily clients initially, attendance jumped to over 50, & has settled back to about 30.  Many attendees present problems with addictions, homelessness, etc.  Teen Junction aims to provide a refuge & learning opportunities for youth with minimal support elsewhere.  An example of a successful strategy is their “Youth in Residence” program, which gives selected participants responsibility for keeping others safe – they essentially take the role of staff members, intervening when trouble arises, & sometimes engaging outside help from first responders or parents.  This can quickly show them the burden of responsibility, & teach valuable life lessons, while being shadowed by real staff.  Our club’s connection with Teen Junction goes back to its beginnings, & we continue to help finance the 4,400 meals served in 2019.