Innisfail, AB – As of December 31, 2019, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Boys & Girls Club programs operating in the town of Innisfail will no longer receive core funding to support programs and services. This is due to a decrease in provincial funding, identified community need, and a new strategic direction.

This forthcoming loss of funding will directly impact 205 youth who are presently accessing or in need of the services provided in Innisfail. Both Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys & Girls Club each lost $24,600 of core funding support. Youth HQ, which coordinates both Big Brothers Big Sisters and Boys & Girls Club programs in Innisfail, is now seeking to secure these needed funds through other sources. However, given the present economic environment, this is anticipated to be a challenge.

“We remain committed to serving the children and families in Innisfail, but we are limited by this reduced capacity to continue to provide and grow our present level of service,” says Dawn Flanagan, Acting Executive Director for Youth HQ.

Youth HQ remains dedicated to providing programs where possible to serve children, youth, and families in this community despite a limited capacity as a result of this funding loss. Big Brothers Big Sisters will continue to operate their community-based mentoring program and the adult supported in-school mentoring program; however the teen mentoring programs will be discontinued. The Boys & Girls Club will be discontinuing all community-based programs in Innisfail; families will be able to access programs offered out of neighboring Red Deer County locations in Bowden, Spruce View, Penhold, and Springbrook, and will continue to be able to access programs and services through Camp Alexo. The present Boys & Girls Club Flex Your Head program operating out of St. Marguerite School will continue through to the end of its scheduled program calendar in February of 2020.

Evidence proves that healthy mentoring relationships and accessible quality opportunities and experiences has a direct impact on a child’s mental health, confidence, knowledge and skills for life. Our programs and services have a preventative focus. At present, Boys & Girls Club does not charge a membership fee to ensure accessibility for all children and youth regardless of financial and/or social barriers. Big Brothers Big Sisters does not charge any fees to their matches to use the program.

“My child has been attending Boys & Girls Club programs for many years, and looks forward to it every week. It’s had such a positive impact on him – not just the friendships, but the relationships with the leaders, and the joint activities with other clubs. We’ll definitely miss having this in Innisfail.” – Melody McKnight, Parent

“As parents and business owners in Innisfail we are shocked at the decision to cut all funding to these beneficial programs. Our kids have benefited tremendously from the Boys & Girls Club program and are lost for words to understand why this decision was made. Mental health, drugs and crime have never been more of a problem than now. We need to be making our youth a priority in those hours after school where many do get into trouble because there is nothing for them to do. We are very disappointed, both as parents and business supporters of this valuable program.” – Kyle & Danielle Blazenko, Parents