Morinville’s new youth worker ready to make his mark

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Youth programming in the community will continue its efforts to engage Morinville’s teens and tweens. Nicholas Valcourt stepped into the position left vacant Aug. 8 by A.D. Richardson, who has left community services work to pursue her goals to become a professional artist.

Valcourt, 23, is the son of Public Works Director Claude Valcourt and is no stranger to the Community Services Department, having worked for the Town running its summer camps in the past.

Community Services Director Kerry Dawson said Valcourt was a unanimous choice among her staff to fill the post. “When A.D. resigned he came to mind,” Dawson said, adding Family and Support Services (FCSS) Coordinator Amie Dribnenky and Recreational and Cultural Coordinator Melonie Dziwenka also agreed with the choice. “We all just said he was the perfect solution so we don’t lose the momentum that has already been started with youth,” Dawson said.

Valcourt starts his position doing double duty, filling the youth worker / youth programmer role and the FCSS position, the latter while Dribnenky is off work on leave. His immediate focus is on youth programming ahead of the fall.

“I’m going to be keeping a lot of stuff in place,” Valcourt said of existing programs, noting he is currently researching those existing programs to access the needs. “I’ve also looked at some of the programs thinking, well, I’ve got a couple of my own ideas to put my own spin on it as well.”

One area of focus for Valcourt is the youth centre, located across from the arena. The new youth worker will be investigating the facility as an optional spot for teens to gather in the community, but he will also scope out other spots where youth may be better served.

“I think we’re just missing … a place for people to meet and be together to function as a whole group,” he said. “I think the key is just attracting more people to the events that we offer. There are quite a few really good programs that are offered, but I’ve been hearing a lot that we don’t have enough enrolment so it’s cancelled.”

Wherever youth may ultimately gather under the Town’s umbrella or whatever programs they may have at their disposal, Valcourt wants to make it worth their while. “My approach to most of what I’m going to be doing is making things exciting and making them known,” he said, adding he plans to visit with local businesses to help promote events with posters and flyers. “I’ll probably do some grass-roots stuff myself, handing out some cards.”

Continued vision

Valcourt is looking to continue the community’s vision for youth, put in place in the past through the youth strategy, Youth in Action Committee, and the ideas planted when motivational speaker Ian Hill came to town last October.

“I see a lot of youth just hanging out and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of stuff happening,” Valcourt said. “I know that A.D. had a lot of good stuff going, dances and stuff like that. I hope to keep that kind of stuff going. [I want to] provide more stuff to do, maybe change some stuff and modify it a little bit more.”

He is hoping to bring elements of his background to bear in the new role. Active in sports, the new youth worker / youth programmer would like to see more sports-related activities in the mix.

Having spent time in cadets, he believes he will be able to structure activities in an organized way. He recently graduated with a Bachelor of Education, and while he is hoping to teach English in South Korea, he anticipates the skills learned in his studies will be applicable to his current position as youth worker. He anticipates being in Morinville until at least November, possibly beyond that time.

“Whatever I decide to do, it will be solidly in place for whoever’s going to be coming in,” Valcourt said of the work he plans to do as youth worker / programmer.
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Above: Youth worker / programmer Nicholas Valcourt stands outside the Morinville Community Cultural Centre, home to the Community Services Department. Valcourt has taken over for the community’s former youth worker, A.D. Richardson. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

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