HANNA PETERSEN PHOTO                                H2O youth volunteers help stock food hampers every other Wednesday at the Harvest Foodbank in Port Hardy.

HANNA PETERSEN PHOTO H2O youth volunteers help stock food hampers every other Wednesday at the Harvest Foodbank in Port Hardy.

H2O youth volunteer program is a win-win

Help-2-Others program helps special needs youth to volunteer in the community

A group of North Island Youth are spending part of their summer giving back to the community.

Youth involved with the H20, or Help-2-others program, are spending time this summer volunteering at various organizations throughout the community.

“This summer for our program I wanted to get the kids out in the community doing things,” said Sue Haskins, Family Support Coordinator at the North Island Crisis and Counselling Centre Society (NICCCS).

H20 is apart of the Family Support Program at NICCCS, which is an after-school activity-based service that teaches life skills, encourages community involvement, and enhances the circle of friends for youth with special needs.

“We hang out and play games and it is a safe place for them to learn to socialize and some have fun,“ said Haskins, adding they do a lot of fun and interesting things like “going to the airport for a tour of the airport and flight tower.”

Although it’s typically an after-school program, in the summer the program is operating in the mornings so the youth can get out in the community and volunteer with H20.

“We are at the food bank and we are helping to put together the bags that go into the hampers. Last week we were at the Rotary Seniors Housing Unit doing gardening work for them and next week we are going to be at the Seniors’ Centre doing some gardening work there,” explained Haskins.

She said H20 helps the youth with communication with others, socializing in the community, and job skills.

“We are going to do a session where we write resumes and cover letters, and have that ready to go too,” said Haskins, adding that “Getting involved also helps the community know who the kids are and that helps them feel safer in different places in our community.”

Andy Cornell, Manager of the Harvest Food Bank, said he thinks it’s fantastic that youth have been volunteering at the food bank every other Wednesday.

“We are often short of volunteers who do these sort of things and these sorts of things default to me,” said Cornell, adding “We got this offer for them to come a couple times a month to help us out and occupy these young folks and it has been a win-win all around. We get tons of stuff done in a short amount of time and they have a blast and they are helping the community out.”

Haskins added that the program is “a lot of fun” because the “kids are amazing and I have excellent staff!”