Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald A t-shirt making station was one of the features of the Family Kinship Fair at the PAGC Urban Services Centre on Saturday. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A group of SIIT students took over the PAGC Urban Services Centre on Saturday for a final group project that helps residents between the ages of 15-30 to gain personal life skills they can put on their resumes.

Seven students from the Kin Quest Program organized The Family Kinship Fair on Saturday.

Jessie Stephanson of SIIT said the event was created out of a Canada Service Corporation partnership grant given to organizations delivering programming for youth under 30.

“From learning about their community over the last 12 weeks, (we) determined that creating an environment in the winter where families could come together in a safe space that didn’t cost money would allow them parents and children to connect in a meaningful way for the day,” Stephanson explained.

“We have the gym set up with a bunch of different stations so when you come in it’s not a quick event. It’s where you can take your time or you can just come and have a seat.”

The event included an art station with Dreamcatcher making, painting and colouring, a station where children could make a shirt featuring the logo of the group with a message of being honest, kind, humble, happy and positive.

There was also a basketball skills competition to test skills and win prizes and a bouncy castle for smaller children.

The event also hosted a cafeteria with bannock, chili, hot dogs, and warm drinks for all who attended.

Stephanson said their goal was to reach between 75 and 100 people.

“It’s been a good slow start for our participants because this is their first time being a bit in the limelight as well,” she said.

The program participants planned, organized, made the budget and came up with the objective for the whole event.

Sandra Stack, the instructor for the 12-week Kin Quest Program, said Saturday’s fair not only gave Prince Albert youth opportunities to grow, it also benefited the student organizers.

“We have spent a lot of time working on personal life skills, and personal development with the opportunity to do volunteer work in the community to gain skills for their resumes so that they’re ready to go to work,” Stack said.

Said program participants learned soft skills like volunteering and received certificates such as food safety. She said that the whole focus of the program was to be able to organize an event like the Family Kinship Fair.

The idea was to create a space where people could bring their children to have a safe and fun place to spend a Saturday. Organizing the event created goals such as budgeting, planning, and working together as a team using their original visions.

“When we started talking about who we wanted to serve and what demographic we wanted to serve, we wanted to serve the lower income families that didn’t have someplace to go in the middle of January to have fun together,” she explained.

“It was all their individual visions, which is how the fair came out because they wanted a sport and art component with food, so they got it,” Stack said.

Stack said that everything that was set out as a goal to finish the program was accomplished with the Family Kinship Fair.

“We have had a lot of fun,” she said. “We have learned through trial and error. We’ve learned through some setbacks (and) how to overcome it. This is all life practical stuff, and a lot of these young guys, this is their first opportunity to work.”

One participant was Bowen Stewart from Sandy Bay who graduated in Prince Albert in 2021. He started the program on Oct. 17. 2023 with 11 students before his brother joined to make it 12. That number eventually dropped to five, and Stewart credited his fellow students for helping him finish it. By the time the class ends on Jan. 26, he will have been there for every day except two.

Stewart and his fellow students are the first group to take the program. He said it’s been a great experience.

“I’ve learned a lot. I learned how to be on time, be punctual to work as a team and to be a leader,” Stewart said.

“My classmates pushed me. We all work together as a team. We never gave up and listened to our instructor.”

Stewart added that he is ready to sign up for the next program that starts in February. He said that the program changed him a lot and made him stop his bad habits.

“If I didn’t take this program on Oct. 17 who knows where I would have been,” he explained.

Stephanson said that the project could not have happened without the grant and an amazing partnership with PAGC Urban Services.

“They have hosted our facility, they’ve partnered and supported the clients through the whole 12-week program and they donated the gym today for the use for this,” Stephanson said.

By: Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald