By Donna West, Executive Director
CityKidz Regina provides positive programming for children between five to 11 years of age and CityYouth serves those between 12 and 17 years old.
The CityKidz mission is to increase resiliency and inspire big dreams for children living in low-income communities. As we watch the children grow within CityKidz, we see them developing the skills and experiences needed to start their adult lives with high self-esteem and knowing there is a plan and purpose for them.
At CityKidz we want to remove all barriers that would hinder a child from attending positive programming. As such, we offer the program free of charge, provide door-to-door transportation and include a nutritional lunch.
For many of the children involved in our program, this lunch may be the only nutritional meal they receive all weekend. The consistency of Saturday programming and weekly home visits is teaching the children the value of staying committed to something and providing a safe place where they know they belong.
Through the lessons taught at CityKidz and CityYouth, the children and youth are learning to build strong peer groups, doing what is right, and that there is a plan and purpose for their lives.
The CityKidz model is one solution to ending child poverty and reducing homelessness. We are investing in the lives of our next generation of leaders. We are building boys and girls into capable young men and women and watching them overcome the hurdles of poverty and rising above their circumstances.
This is Why We Fight.
We believe that no one, especially children, should have to live in an environment where they aren’t sure if they are safe — where they encounter violence, death and despair before they understand peace, life and hope.
We believe that by knocking on a door, hearing a story and creating an inspirational program, we get to be a piece of what shapes a child’s understanding of the world. We have the honour of modeling and nurturing healthy relationships and we can be adults who demonstrate love, empathy and safety. In a world that may feel like it is always shifting, we can be that constant that is missing in their lives.
I am grieved. My heart is broken when I consider even one child living in the tremendous vulnerability that poverty can create.
I am devastated when I ponder the reality that 15,000 children in our city are facing adverse circumstances. And, I am hopeful. I am hopeful because I know that if I choose to make my time and investment today count, it will echo throughout eternity, into the homes of Regina, particularly our First Nation families and into the hearts of children.
I know the trajectory of a story can be changed and children can rise above their circumstances.
Donna West started CityKidz Regina September 2010 while working full-time with the Government of Saskatchewan. Three years later, left her job and pursued CityKidz as a full-time endeavour. It was here that she was able to fill a long-time void.
A single parent, Donna understands some of the hardships endured by many of the families that are part of the CityKidz program. As Executive Director of CityKidz, Donna hopes to encourage children and youth to rise above their circumstances and remove barriers that stand in the way of pursing their dreams.