Quinte West Youth Centre Offers Non-traditional Sports

Traditional sports don’t appeal to all youth, which is why the Quinte West Youth Centre in Trenton takes a different approach.

The QWYC is celebrating 10 years this fall and offers programs for youth between the ages of 10-18 such as cooking, art, wellness, sports, photography, video games and more.
“We were originally opened because a group of social workers came together and recognized there was a need for a safe place for our youth to come after school to just hang out as well as get some positive mentorship,” said executive director Jessica Coolen. “They created a youth centre and it has been a huge success.”

Coolen said it’s a youth-led centre, meaning programs and activities are planned around the youth that attend and the needs that they have.

“We get a lot of youth who come in who just need help to learn how to socialize and we get a lot of youth who want to be physically active, but they come from a family that can’t necessarily afford to put them into sports,” Coolen remarked.

Coolen loves the QWYC’s TASAR (Team, Activity, Sports and Recreation) program. The non-traditional sports involved include bubble soccer, archery tag, rollerblade ball hockey, Quidditch (from Harry Potter), garbage can ping pong (participants are divided into teams and aim to get ping pong balls into the opposing team’s garbage can) and water slip ‘n slide. Unique versions of basketball have also been played.

“We created that program because we do see a lot of different demographics and different interests within our centre and we wanted to be able to bring the opportunity of different ways of being physically active to show that you can still be active and have fun all while being healthy,” Coolen said. “Once you bring in a unique way of playing, they’re like ‘oh this is really fun’ so we’re still getting them to be active while having fun. That’s what I love most about our TASR program, it gets the kids who normally don’t want to play, to play.”
Getting the youth to be physically active is a great benefit, but there’s so much more to the program as well.

“We’re also teaching them team-building skills, leadership skills, communication skills and problem-solving skills,” Coolen said. “We’re like a second home. We teach them, without them even realizing that we’re teaching them, so it’s a fantastic opportunity.”
The QWYC also provides youth with nutritious meals and healthy snacks.

Currently the centre is open for in-person programs Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 to 5 p.m. COVID-19 restrictions remain in place and the centre can only accommodate 25 people. During the pandemic, the centre has also held some virtual programs. “I’m hoping by this fall we’ll be able to open in person full-time,” Coolen said.

On Aug. 7, the QWYC held its first Route for Youth Car Rally, which is hoped to become an annual event. The route began at St. Paul Catholic Secondary School in Trenton and the car and motorcycle entries traveled around Prince Edward County in a poker run style format.
“We created the idea of this route to allow proper social distancing, but as well it’s a great opportunity for everyone who loves to ride their motorcycle or their vintage cars to get out of the house and have a great day outdoors as well as having an opportunity to support our Centre,” Coolen said prior to the event.

Check out www.quintewestyouthcentre.ca for
future fundraising events and how youth can become members.