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Middleton’s youth-driven Community Growth Project meets next on Nov. 28

Elyias French, right, attended a weeklong youth leadership conference in Regina at RCMP Depot in August. Adam Burns, left, is the Community Programs Officer for Annapolis District RCMP and selected French for the trip. Burns also attended.
Elyias French, right, and Adam Burns are working together in the Middleton area Community Growth Project that hopes to bridge the gap between young and old and motivate youth to become leaders. - Lawrence Powell

MIDDLETON, N.S. - A Middleton youth is implementing a program to help bring young and old people together and help the community at the same time.

On Nov. 28 Elyias French will host a second meeting for his project that stems from working with the RCMP and attending a national youth leadership conference in the summer. And you’re invited.

“I’m not saying that we live in a perfect problem-free town, not by a long shot,” French said when he got back from that week in Regina. “What I am saying is that we have a chance to grow as a community and to solve some of the issues that are found locally here and maybe even prevent some issues from forming in the first place.”

The RCMP’s community programs officer has been mentoring French and went with him to the conference.

“He was one of 16 youth from across Canada who went to this youth leadership conference,” said Adam Burns. “They had to focus on issues in the community. His main focus was the separation between adults and youth in his community and the lack of motivation and leadership with youth.”

French held his first Community Growth Project meeting in October at the Middleton Macdonald Museum and he regards it as a success. Seven people showed up and he’s looking for 10 or 12 this time around as the group plans community-building projects.

“People showed up at the (first) meeting, and obviously once some people show up and figure out what it’s all about, word of mouth spreads,” Burns said. “We’ve had more people come forward and be like ‘how do we get involved? I want to come in to this.’ I believe we’ll have more out for this meeting.”

While the project is about community growth, that can’t happen without leadership, and French hopes young people will become motivated as projects are planned and implemented. Burns agreed.

“I think it’s about both. It’s about motivating not only the youth but about the adults in the community to get out and to do positive things for their community,” he said. “Things have changed a lot in the last few years. People are more busy. They seem to be more about themselves, myself included. It’s one of those things. People used to get together. We need to get back to that community sense of being.”

French’s Community Growth Project is essentially a pay-it-forward project.

“Getting adults in the community and the youth in the community to work together and do something positive in the community – and break those barriers between youths and adults so the work together,” Burns said.

French holds meetings once a month at the museum in Middleton from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. and it’s usually a Wednesday, usually later in the month. The next meeting is Nov. 28.

French said half the meeting is going to be a discussion around what they’ve done positive, plans for future projects, and during the last half participants will actually go around the town and collect garbage.

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