Chestermere’s Town council announced this year’s recipient of the annual Dave Mikkelsen award on December 15.
Megan Desplanque, a 28-year-old Chestermere resident, is a volunteer leader with both the Lake Ridge Community Church Youth Group and the YELL (Youth Encouraging Lasting Leadership) group. She was awarded the $1,000 cheque for her plan to start a YouTube channel directed at the youth of Chestermere.
Desplanque says she came up with the idea after noticing a decrease in attendance at youth groups, so she began to look at different ways that youth are interacting with one another, and how to get connected with them outside of meetings.
“I found myself on YouTube, noticing that teens were the biggest age group that were commenting (on videos) and or trying to find community to interact with,” she says. “I also noticed a lot of kids at Youth Group were using their phones to show the latest YouTube videos or even just channels that they were watching.”
Desplanque says that she thinks it’s a form of social media that young people are using anyway, potentially on a daily basis, so a Youtube channel could be a good way of interacting with them more often.
“It could also be somewhere that could be safe place where they can interact with other youth and people who are willing to talk to them, help them out through whatever is going on, and give them the correct information about what is going on in Chestermere for them and about them,” she says. “Also, I believe that in this society, we feel safer to talk and respond from behind a computer. So my thought was ‘Why not try an online youth group?’ Youth are changing, so why can't we change with them?”
The $1,000 will go toward purchasing the equipment needed to set up the channel, such as a DSLR camera and video editing software. Any leftover funds will go toward purchasing prizes for giveaways for young viewers.
The channel doesn’t have a name or a link yet, but Desplanque says she plans to come up with one soon.
“I would love to bring this up to the YELL group and the youth at Lake Ridge and see what they would like to see on the channel, and also what they would like to name it so that I am able to include them right away with the content.”
The Dave Mikklesen award was established in 2010, and was created to honour former Mayor Mikkelsen’s dedication to the Town and its youth during his 12 consecutive years on Council.
For more information, visit www.chestermere.ca/youthaward.