Grade 6 student Grace McEwen knew about a few different local charities before this week, but learned just how many different groups help out in the community at a youth fair, held at City Park on Thursday.
McEwen, 10, was at the Change the Game Community Youth Fair, along with several friends, including Erica Sproule and Ally Wark. It was an an event organized by a company called Change Gamers, who invited every Grade 6 student in the Central Okanagan to the event, as well as dozens of charities and non-profit organizations, putting the youth in touch with community groups in a learning environment.
“We’re learning about how to change the world,” said McEwen, who was traveling from station to station, learning about the different charities by answering questions and acquiring tickets. “I never knew there were so many charities.”
The event was the brainchild of a company called Change Gamers which designed the day as a way to inspire and help students learn the importance of giving back and to promote its app, which is for kids who want to connect and learn about social change.
“Our goal is to provide an education and life-changing day out for students,” said Jason Richards, CEO of Change Gamers. “We want to show students that they can take action and really be a part of positive social change in our community.”
Students were encouraged to learn as much as they could about the different organizations, traveling around the fair and collecting tickets that can be used at various events.
“It’s very inspiring to do this,” said Sproule, also in Grade 6. “I really want to volunteer someday. I think this is great.”
“It’s very cool,” agreed Wark, the third member of the team with all the girls coming from Mar Jok Elementary in West Kelowna.
“This is great,” said Ian Gerbrandt of the Central Okanagan United Way. “It’s helping these kids understand they can be agents of change in their community. I think kids come hard-wired wanting to help people. They already want to help. This lets them know how they can help.”
Change Gamers’ app, designed for kids to be able to use to connect with each other and to support charities around the region, is free and has information about initiatives and causes in the region.
Using technology seems like a natural fit for the younger generation, said Gerbrandt.
“I had one student who said he wants to use the app and give back to the community as part of his birthday,” he said. “Helping people is part of our DNA. It gives you a sense of belonging when you help other people and we need to instill that in our kids.”
For friends Grace, Erica and Ally, the event did what it was supposed to. As the girls headed off to another station, they happily thought ahead to when they can help out in the community.
“I think it’s great that we get to experience this,” said McEwen.
For more about Change Gamers go to changegamers.com