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Kids First launches new youth support program

Gerry Ditrich is the new youth support worker at Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre.

Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre and its news youth support worker are planning an exciting summer for young people aged seven to 18 years.

A new youth support program is being developed as part of the province’s Family Resource Network.

“Ultimately, we are focused on programs that promote growth and development of youth through a broad range of activities that strengthen, build and support the mastery of skills in all developmental domains,” explained Gerry Ditrich of Kids First. “Increasing resilience, empowering them in a safe supportive environment for youth to reach their full potential.”

Ditrich joined the youth support program at Kids First Family Centre in May.

Prior to joining the Fort Macleod-based organization, Ditrich worked in the addictions field for two decades.

Born and raised in Lethbridge, Ditrich moved out to Vancouver Island in the late 1990s to study jazz guitar.

Ditrich moved back to Lethbridge about 15 years ago, where he lives with his wife of 20 years, their 10-year-old son and six-year-old daughter.

“I am incredibly excited to be on the team of Kids First,” Ditrich said. “Working with children, youth and families has been a dream job for me, and to have the opportunity to be the youth support worker here in Fort Macleod is wonderful.”

Ditrich describes the youth support program as being built or sculpted by himself and the rest of the team at Kids First Family Centre.

Prior to the youth support program being started, the Kids First had programming for children aged six years and under.

The new youth support program will focus on children aged seven to 18 years.

“A lot of time and effort are being put into making program material that will be beneficial and engaging to all the age ranges,” Ditrich said.

The program’s summer activities will run on Thursday mornings throughout July and August — weather and COVID-19 permitting.

The youth support program will offer outdoor activities and sports, some educational and science experimental and messy activities, music  groups for listening, playing and learning, groups that promote connectedness, and one-on-one support.

Ditrich said the fall will lead into some longer running groups, partnering with agencies and special events.

The youth support program will primarily be hosted at the Kids First, but not exclusively. There may be some events elsewhere in the community.

The youth support program extends from Fort Macleod to the Crowsnest Pass where Ditrich will visit and offer activities.

Open to young people aged seven to 18 years, the youth support program has an emphasis on Indigenous youth, LGBTQ2, and other vulnerable and marginalized populations. 

“The team at Kids First Family Centre are striving to make the best connections possible with all the members, schools and agencies in the area to learn how we can best support children, youth and families to the best of our ability, and welcome all support, feedback and participation that we can get,” Ditrich said.

To get involved in the youth support program, contact Gerry Ditrich at youth@fmkidsfirst.com or 587-787-1071.

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