© Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen-Record
Several volunteers have been working on Parrsboro’s new youth centre, which is hoped to be in operation by August. Among those on hand this week were (from left) Chad Brown, Gage Shea, Sherman McGrath, Tom Brown, Amber Brewer and Sharon Brown.
PARRSBORO - "Hanging out" has never been so easy for young people in this town. A new Parrsboro youth centre is being worked on by several local volunteers, who hope to have its doors open by August. Sharon Brown said she and husband Tom first considered the idea after they lost their 17-year-old daughter Courtney to suicide last year. "I was always driving around and seeing kids hanging out on Main Street," said Brown, who had a youth centre where she grew up in Germany. "Even when Courtney was alive, she had mentioned the need for somewhere to go and hang out, and that there was nowhere to hang out." The Browns brought up the idea to Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie earlier this year when helping him put together an anti-bullying bill, and also discussed with other local kids and parents. They learned the idea was not a new one to Parrsboro, but had never seemed to be able to get off the ground. They also spoke with Maggie's Place employee Amanda Brown, who expressed the availability for youth programming, but the lack of a central gathering place to spread the word at. Mrs. Brown also spoke with Frank Hartman president of the Parrsboro Lions Club, who helped team them up with local youth Audriana Smith, who was already working on a similar initiative. A volunteer youth committee, with Audriana as the president, has been set up to administer the Parrsboro Youth Society, which will manage the building. The committee is now meeting to work out plans for the facility, as well as upcoming fundraisers such as a bottle drive and 50/50 draw. Mrs. Brown found what appears to be an ideal location, by complete accident. "I got my nails done at Amber Lee's one day, and was telling her about our idea, but that we couldn't get any land to get it off the ground," she recalled. "She said, 'I have the perfect place for you.' She gave us the place for free. All we have to pay is the electricity." Located in the rear portion of the Amber Lee's Beautiful Me spa building, the youth centre is already creating a buzz around the community. Mr. Brown and other volunteers have been busy renovating the space with new floors, walls, etc., thanks to donations of materials and other co-operation from local hardware stores. Aimed at children from ages seven to 19, the youth centre will include space for movies on a big-screen, video game consoles, air hockey, foosball and more. A volunteer adult supervisor will be on hand at all times. Among the volunteers has been Const. Dal Hutchinson, community policing officer of the Cumberland RCMP and a local parent. He said the youth of the community have identified the need for a location they could call their own, specifically a youth centre. "This idea is now becoming a reality," said Hutchinson. "With the support of the community and the hard work of the youth, it will be a place for the youth to hang out, socialize and have a great sense of belonging." Many of the young people who "hang out" on the streets are not involved with organized activities, according to Hutchinson, who said it is hoped the youth centre will provide them with the opportunity to feel more accepted, and to enhance their self-esteem. Fundraisers will be held through the year to cover costs such as electricity, and funding grants will be sought, according to Mrs. Brown. Those wishing to contribute in any way are encouraged to contact Tom and Sharon Brown at 254-2482.