HALIFAX – Interviewing seniors. Writing plays. Tutoring. Volunteering. Sailing. These are the kinds of activities at-risk youth can take part in across Nova Scotia, thanks to the province's Lighthouses Grants program.
The province is looking for more great ideas to help young Nova Scotians stay on the right track to reach their full potential. New grants are available for 2013-14, Justice Minister Ross Landry announced Tuesday, at the Phoenix Learning and Employment Centre in Halifax.
"When at-risk youth take part in these programs, they have fun, learn what they're passionate about, and get involved in their communities," said Landry. "Our Lighthouses partners are reaching out to youth across this province, and that makes our communities stronger and safer."
Under the Lighthouses program, groups can apply for a $12,000 grant to offer youth programs designed to prevent and reduction crime. These recreational, educational, cultural and life-skills initiatives can be anything from after-school programs for at-risk youth, to media arts, dance or theatre activities.
"Youth on the Radar has been an amazing experience. It taught me that, through art, everyone can be heard and can make a difference," said Youth on the Radar alumni, Caitlin Hempel. "It also gave me the tools and understanding of how to make positive social change through art. In doing so, it has given me a voice."
The program began in 2010. Last year, the Lighthouses program gave out $240,000 in grants to 20 community groups across the province. Groups reported almost 3,000 visits a month from youth and almost 33,000 positive youth and adult interactions.
More than 150 formal partnerships have been established to support programs with groups such as local police, mental health programs and local business leaders.
"The youth we have the privilege of getting to know are wise, resilient and caring," said Timothy Crooks, executive director of Phoenix in Halifax. "They want to stay in school, get great jobs and be able to contribute to their communities. The Lighthouse Grant has allowed us to help strengthen that determination and to provide some support along the way."
Phoenix uses its Lighthouse Grant to provide after-school programs for children and youth in Mulgrave Park.
Applications for 2013-2014 Lighthouse grants are available at http://novascotia.ca/just/prevention/ .