Objective is to change youth perception of ‘boring city,’ say organizers

“Oh, Calgary is so boring. There’s nothing to do.”

If you’ve ever heard a youth say something like that, as does Grade 12 student Fatemeh Ramazani, then you might suggest they look into attending this year’s Youth Week events.

The annual event, held internationally, is a week-long celebration of youth featuring a diverse spectrum of events. Calgary’s itinerary includes a kick-off concert at The New Black Music and Arts Centre, a hip-hop dance workshop, and even a battle of robot gadgets.

Jennifer Atkinson, program co-ordinator of Youth Central, said that having youth volunteer to do the legwork for the week means that the interests of their peers are adequately represented.

Two youth volunteers smile for the camera at last year’s Youth Week. This year, the annual festival runs from April 21-28.
Photo courtesy of: Jennifer Atkinson.
Another one of these volunteers is Grade 12 student Kerri Heidemann who said that she is motivated to see other youth get excited about the city they are living in.

“The city has given me so much. Different opportunities have given me the opportunity to get involved and become who I am,” Heidemann said. “I think if you can find out what you’re passionate about, that passion is contagious to everyone you meet.”

Heidemann and Ramazani are part of a team of six youth volunteers who meet twice a month to contact organizations about hosting events during Youth Week, collect prizes, and get the word out to youth around the city about the various opportunities.

Ramazani said that before getting involved, she too was one of the kids who sat around and complained about having nothing to do.

“What I say to my friends is, ‘Go out and see what the city has to offer you,’” Ramazani said. “A lot of my friends are just waiting to go to university in some other city. We want to change that.”

The volunteer team, with support from the Calgary non-profit Youth Central, contacted businesses around the city and Youth Week now also has gained support from popular events such as the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo as well as the Market Collective.

Ramazani said that she hopes the exposure the event will provide will encourage more youth to get involved in their city, which will then change the attitude that Calgary is boring.

“Youth want to be involved. They’re coming out and saying they want to be involved,” Ramazani said. “We want organizations to want to involve youth. They will put on more events. And that will engage youth even more.

“If one of them happens, it will lead to the other. And Calgary will become a more youth-friendly environment.”

jdryden@cjournal.ca