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Carrier Sekani Family Services organized a Hang Out Zone in Burns Lake

The program is a space for youth in grades 8-12 to strengthen their social skills
Carrier Sekani Family Services organized an after school hangout zone for youths on every Wednesdays in Burns Lake. (L-R) Payton Cresswell and Samantha Michell are both Carrier Sekani Family Services’ youth service workers. (Saddman Zaman photo/Lakes District News)

Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) organized a Hang Out Zone program at 492 Highway 16 West Burns Lake which is their new office building at Fourth Avenue.

In many small communities, the opportunities for safe spaces and engaging activities for youth are limited. This program was designed to give youths in Grades 8-12 opportunities to strengthen their social, emotional, physical, and mental well-being as they are surrounded and supported by peers and youth services workers.

Edith Stevenson, CSFS’s youth services supervisor, said that it’s a space that provides opportunities to develop new friendships, try new things, be creative, and chill. “There are some great sports and groups within Burns Lake for youths to participate in,” she said.

The Hang Out Zone have several activities like pinball machines, foosball tables, games, crafts, movies, and food to make the space more lively and entertaining.

Stevenson said that after listening to clients, families, and community members, CSFS figured there’s a service gap for youth not involved in these activities.

“Developing a space for youth to hang out and call their own was the next logical step,” she said.

The Hang Out Zone is in the beginning stages of development, and youths can drop in every Wednesday from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

CSFS plans to engage with the youths and hear their ideas of what they would like to see in this space, which activities they want to engage in, and what is needed to make this a safe, inclusive space that they can call their own.

Stevenson added that CSFS is gathering suggestions to give this space an Indigenous name that youth will feel connected to, identify with, and be proud of.

“We look forward to transitioning the Hang Out Zone to the Burns Lake Foundry building when it’s ready for the CSFS Youth Services program to move into the newly renovated, youth-focused space,” she said.