A ribbon-cutting marked the Grand Opening of ICYA's new space on April 29, 2011.

Out of the ashes comes the Building of Hope

Written by Laurie Kozak, previously published in The Messenger

After one-third of its building was destroyed by arson, Inner City Youth Alive has turned the devastation into a Building of Hope. The arson, which occurred in April 30, 2008, affected ICYA’s capacity to help youth and run programs in the North End of Winnipeg.

Three years later, on Friday, April 29, 2011, a Grand Opening with ribbon cutting and speeches was held in celebration of the completion of the million-dollar project.

Community, agencies, politicians such as Mayor Sam Katz, Doug Martindale (Burrows), and Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North), Bill Blaikie (Minister of Conservation and MLA for Elmwood) and guests such as police chief Keith McCaskill and Judy Wasylycia-Leis attended. Don Amero and Glenn Zaretski performed.

“For close to 25 years we have had the word ‘hope’ at the centre of our mission to youth,” said director Kent Dueck. “When the fire hit we were really discouraged and deflated so it was time to apply the word hope to ourselves… it was our chance to see if it was just a word or if we could live it.”

“We are more than a building that can be damaged by fire. Our goals go beyond the brick and mortar,” he said. “We decided to use the space for our drop-in, because it is the funnel into our organization through which we reach more than 460 children.”

The new 4,500 square foot space has tripled the drop-in area. This will increase the hours during which the centre is open to influence youth and the community.

It will give ICYA staff more opportunities to be a positive influence through increased interaction and enhance their capacity to plan and initiate programs.

Youth will have more access to programs and physical activities like basketball, volleyball and rock climbing. These provide healthy alternatives to being on the street.

There are two activity rooms to accommodate art, crafts and programs to expand skill sets, as well as a snack bar area for connecting. The expanded space will also accommodate the hosting of large community events.

ICYA is a non-profit organization located in the North End of Winnipeg, one of the city’s most needy neighbourhoods. ICYA has been reaching out, supporting and empowering youth and their families in the inner city through services and programs since 1986.

Programs and resources include Inner City Motorsport, Gem Lake Wilderness Camp, Wilderness Out Trips, and The Bridge drop-in, Meals for Kids, Community Outreach, Job Skills Training, and Leadership Development.