The Legacy Youth events have been a growing success in Aldergrove.
Thanks to creative games that appeal to a wide range of youth tastes, the Friday evening open-air events have become a repeat hit for 30 or more youths over the past year.
Jacob Miller started the Legacy Youth events as an outreach to kids in Grades 6 to 12 who would otherwise have nothing to do on a Friday night in their hometown.
Each Friday night from 7-9 p.m. has a theme that has cultural references that are relevant and current, such as the upcoming Hunger Games event on June 1 or the Jurassic Park event on June 8. The events are activity-based and foster social interaction, although not necessarily athletic — and certainly not isolating such as video games can be.
“We try to make it fresh and engaging,” says Miller. “It can be goofy, like our recent live-action Angry Birds event. The kids made these castles which they then destroyed with slingshots.”
Miller, 23, has just completed his first year as a career youth ministry worker with Aldergrove’s Christian Life Community Church (CLCC), but has worked for many years as a volunteer youth ministry worker in Smithers, where he grew up. He moved to Abbotsford four years ago to study at Summit Pacific College, where he recently completed his degree.
Miller works alongside CLCC Aldergrove’s senior pastor Chad Langerud, who hired Miller to head up the Legacy Youth ministry. The Aldergrove church is affiliated with the larger Abbotsford church, and has grown to about 100 parishioners, meeting Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m in the Betty Gilbert Middle School gym.
The Legacy Youth events are posted on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1931997110418708/about/) and Instagram (clcc.aldergrove.legacyyouth) and information is also available via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
However, word of mouth has been behind the program’s growing successes.
“Most of the youths involved every week are not members of our church. Many of them joined after seeing us in action at Philip Jackman Park on Friday evenings, wanting to join in the fun,” said Jacob.
“Since we don’t have a building of our own in Aldergrove, the park has been a good place for us because there is no rental cost, it has washroom facilities and maybe best of all it has exposed us to kids who might not know about us if they hadn’t seen us while using the park.”
The weekly themes involve an hour of play followed by an hour of social interaction.
“It’s an opportunity to get to know each other, making all feel welcome and getting to know other cultural circles,” said Jacob.
“At school kids usually break off into cliques, but with us it’s a safe place no matter how different our backgrounds may be.
“We find that a lot of youth are struggling with issues, such as negative self-views. We focus on lifting them up, a voice in their lives and giving them an opportunity to express their own opinions too.”
Upcoming events in June include Hunger Games on June 1 (a big dodgeball game with “extra lives” based on rules of the novel/movie), Jurassic Park on June 8 (a variation on the game of tag), Pixel on June 15 (smaller teams run around town in a kind of scavenger hunt), Geostorm on June 22 (an obstacle course with the challenge of making the storm stop).
On Friday, June 29 it’s a Pizza Party celebrating the end of the school year and will involve either a game or a movie night.
And sometimes Legacy Youth has what is called “Boredom Busters” such as a group trip last summer to Chilliwack’s Water Park or to the cinema to see a new movie.
“We try to cover some costs too so that no one is left out because of their family’s financial circumstances,” said Jacob, noting that most of the activities are entirely free of charge.
CLCC Aldergrove is also co-sponsoring the second annual Soccer Camps on August 7-10 at Aldergrove Athletic Park. With teachers from Athletes in Action, youths from ages six to 12 will receive four full days of instruction, Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The cost is $120 each, with $75 for each additional sibling registered. For information and registration call 778-347-7333 or go to website p2c.sh/clcc (https://athletesinaction.configio.com/orglandingpage?org=3273).
“This was a great camp last, with top instruction from young Athletes in Action personnel who told us Aldergrove was one of their best camps ever,” said Jacob.
“This year the camp will reach out by being open all day Friday to the families of the kids, and we’ll cap it off with a barbecue that afternoon.”