Investing in Youth

It takes a village to raise a child.

By the end of that week we had bought our house.

When it comes to attracting families, the quality of life for children and young people is of the highest consideration. I know this because I have a young family (My kids are 6 and 4)! Back when me and Erin were considering possible places to set down some roots, of course we were considering how the neighbourhood we would live in would affect our future children’s experience growing up. When I “discovered” Pinawa, the first thing I noticed was that there were schools, parks, and recreation like the beach and tennis courts. We looked at the town on Google Maps, and I imagined our future kids riding their bikes to school on those streets, building forts in the woods, and skiing with their classmates on the trails. You can see the Ironwood Trail in the satellite images, and I remember thinking, “Wow, what a forward thinking progressive community that would protect that land and keep it public for the people. Honey, we’re going to Pinawa!”

When we invest children and young people, it will pay dividends big time in the near term and in the long run.

Our story is not unique. There are a lot of young families in town and more are moving in. My son’s Grade 1 class has nearly 20 kids in it! People are coming to Pinawa because they see they want a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment where their family can thrive. Once here, a lot of these adventurous people are starting their own businesses, from massage therapy, hair salons, cabin rentals, eco outfitters, and gyms, and others end up finding work in local enterprises. And as one of the many consequences of 2020, there has been a great advancement at the feasability of working remotely from home. More and more people are not tethered to their office in Winnipeg, all they need is a home office with a solid internet connection. The point is, that if somebody believes that a place like Pinawa will help support them in achieving their best life, they will do everything they can to find a way.

The mission for us, is to make Pinawa stand out from the crowd and offer the most attractive living experience for young educated adults.

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com

For Babies and Little Kids

When it comes to our littlest citizens, it comes down to safety and supporting parents. There are several things we can do to help make Pinawa even better for young families.

  • Add crosswalks at strategic locations on school routes and near parks and rec facilities for increased safety.
  • Lower speed limits in town on Shared Roads.
  • Prohibit on-street parking in targeted areas during specific times on busy school routes or near recreation areas where there is no sidewalk. Parked cars make kids harder to see, make it harder for them to see vehicles, force them to walk closer to the middle of the road when there is increased traffic. This is a simple change that will greatly improve children’s safety.
  • Re-evaluate and improve on our parks and playground planning. Currently we have some nice parks, a bunch of outdated ones, and some areas of town like the North side and the West side where there are none at all! Besides being a huge benefit to kids and parents, playgrounds boost land values of the surrounding neighbourhood!
  • Adequate access to baby change tables! (Dad’s change diapers too you know!)
  • Make sure there are enough benches in parks and other public areas so Moms can feed their babies. Also it gives a place for parents to sit and have a chat with other parents, helping to maintain their well-being and sanity.
Photo by Hannah Nelson on Pexels.com

For Teens and Students

Young people today are growing up in a world of unprecidented change. The challenges that this generation will face are numerous. Many of these challenges are the result of policies in which they have had no say. It is our responsibility to give our young people the greatest opportunity possible to gain the experience and skills necessary to succeed and thrive going forward. In Pinawa, we can do this in several ways.

  • Expand access to FREE activities for teens! Young people need places to hang out and be active and socialize. Teens seem to love the diving dock at the beach. Activities like youth swim and teen skate are awesome, but we can build on that. There are many youth activities that are highly organized by adults, but it’s also important for there to be places for young people to have independant play, like a decent basketball court, tennis, or maybe a skate park. These activities are critical at a time when youth obesity and depression are causing significant harm. Youth access to basic social and physical well-being should not be restricted by their parents salaries.
  • With the influx of tourism related business there are more and more opportunities for Summer jobs which is great. Working with local business, we need to make sure that any youth employed in our jurisdiction are educated in their rights and responsibilities as it pertains to Labour and Occupational Health and Safety.
  • Youth in Politics (YIP) This would be a pilot project that would form a joint committee of LGD Councillors and Students. These young people would have the opportunity to represent the wishes of their peers and present them in an official channel. With guidance from educators and councillors, they would learn about the democratic process, committee work, writing proposals, budgeting, and organisation. This would offer students the opportunity to earn, potentially, some partial extra credit, experience, professional references, and to affect real meaningful action in their town on behalf of their peers. This would be a good introduction to leadership, and these students would likely go on to being future champions of the issues and challenges that they will face.

These sorts of small improvements will add up to build on Pinawa’s already high quality of life. When we invest children and young people, it will pay dividends big time in the near term and in the long run. Playgrounds full of kids, couples on evening strolls, teens shooting hoops, all of this contributes to a more vibrant and healthy community. With the nice sunny spring weather out the past couple days, you see a lot of people out walking. And they’re smiling. That sort of sense of well-being from being out and about, has immense value for us as individuals, and for our community as a whole. Let’s build on that.

Do you have any ideas that would be a hit with the kids these days? Let me know!

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