By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
DO Crew Jr. teaches youth how to grow and prosper.
“DO Crew Jr. is a youth volunteerism program that fosters leadership skills,” said Kim Forchuk, a Family Support Worker at Family and Community Support Services who facilitates the DO Crew Jr. in Vauxhall. “We build skills like communication and problem solving while learning to work as a team.”
Forchuk says that the DO Crew exists because FCSS saw a need for youth volunteerism in the community and decided to create DO Crew Jr. for youths 11 to 14 years old in October 2021 as a spin-off from the already existing FCSS DO Crew program for kids aged 15 to 18 years old.
In Vauxhall, Forchuk says, the crew meets at Vauxhall Elementary School every second Friday after school. The FCSS website, http://www.fcss.ca, has the DO Crew Jr. dates and times listed for each community. Forchuk says that the DO Crew Jr. serves not only Vauxhall, but Coaldale, Nobleford, and Raymond, too.
“We bring awareness to our communities by going out and participating in community events,” said Forchuk. “We wear our DO Crew Jr. t-shirts and can always be seen having a ton of fun, so we are hard to miss at community events! The DO Crew Jr. kids actually get to take the lead here; they are able to recognize what some of the needs are in their community and then they get to plan events, and (bring in) initiates to fill those gaps and meet those needs.”
Many events have benefitted from their efforts, says Forchuk.
“In the past, we have provided games for Centennial Day, Canada Day and the Saturday Farmers Market. We have volunteered at the Vauxhall Fire Hall cleaning equipment after a grass fire. Every year the kids have made Christmas cards for the seniors in Vauxhall. They write messages to the local seniors conveying how much they look up to them and appreciate them.”
DO Crew Jr. is a great way for kids to give back while enjoying some fellowship among friends.
“One of the most important things that we do is have fun,” continued Forchuk. “The kids see that helping out in their community and being part of a team is incredibly rewarding and fun! If we are not working on a volunteer activity, we meet and do activities around leadership skills. The activities are always fun, and the kids have a blast while learning important things like communication, problem solving, respect, team work and more. It can be quite empowering for the kids to recognize the needs in their community, come up with a plan on how they can help and then go out into their community (and) follow through on their ideas. To put your idea forward, then have that idea taken and worked on as a team to be brought to fruition, can be a real confidence booster. Do Good – Feel Good is our motto and that’s exactly what it feels like for them to do good in their community.”
Forchuk says that any youth who are interested in joining can have their parents text or call Petra Debow at 403-795-3328, or email Petra.Debow@FCSS.ca.
“I think this is an amazing program in our communities,” said Forchuk. “The part that I enjoy is watching the kids gain confidence in themselves and be all that they can be without having to change who they are. They learn that they don’t have to pretend to be someone else, that they can be themselves, authenticity is another topic that we learn about. The kids gain confidence, social skills, self-awareness and the list goes on. The gift of giving (volunteerism) is powerful and can be helpful for mental health and wellness. It’s heart-warming to see this kind of growth in these kids. DO Crew Jr. is well received. We are gaining visibility in our communities as we are being asked to do volunteer work more and more. The kids experience growth in areas of self awareness, confidence, communication. I’ve recently had feedback from a parent that said her kids have been kinder to one another as a result of being in the Do Crew Jr. FCSS is very proud to offer this program and hope that it continues to spread to other communities.”