Parksville Qualicum Community Foundation
The Hand started in 2009 after the youth in the community of Oceanside discovered that an overwhelming majority of young people would not highly recommend their community as the ideal place to grow up and reside.
The project began with a day-long forum that was youth-planned and delivered called Teens of the Towns: Voicing Youth’s Truths. A key result of this high energy day was Youth’s Top Ten Youth Truths, a compilation of discoveries that articulated the views and perspectives of the community’s youth population.
The next step was to explore these findings at a deeper level and identify their implications for action. In the Dialogues stage, which took place in the six months after the forum, the youth invited a diverse selection of groups and individuals from the community to join them for a conversation about the improvements that they envisioned. Throughout this series of meetings, the youth organizers formed a much broader context for the Top Ten Truths identified in the forum. These youth project organizers were regarded as ‘youth experts,’ and the community responded to a number of opportunities to become better engaged with the youth population.
At the end of this period, the youth were able to summarize their ten truths in a Call to Action, which consisted of building a community that was safe, healthy, and mobile, and as importantly, a community that enabled learning for living. The community also realized that the central needs identified by youth were the same needs recognized by seniors. Instead of two solitudes, this series of community-building events resulted in a strong framework for possible intergenerational collaboration.
The final event was a celebration which the youth planned and organized and welcomed the whole community. More than 300 people attended, and the community now looks forward eagerly to an annual youth led celebration.
The Hand was asked to organize and deliver two critically important forums in the community planning process of both Parksville and Qualicum Beach. The two youth forums were incredible events, noted by the consultants hired to steer the process in Parksville as "ground breaking". The first forum was so helpful to the town planners that when the second town, Qualicum Beach, had its process reach that critical "reach out the community point", it turned to the Community Foundation again. Once again, the youth made the difference between no voice and a credible and thoughtful input into the future direction of two communities.