by Deron Johnston
Last year, the Kemptville Youth Centre (KYC) lost its leader and architect to a better career opportunity. Former Executive Director Robin Heald was a visionary, who left KYC in a much better financial, organizational and strategic position than when she walked in the door that first day. One of her decisions in particular seems to be having a major impact on KYC. That decision was the hiring of programming coordinator Bridget Manahan.
If you walk in the door of KYC today and look around, you’ll see youth talking, laughing, playing, using the computers or doing some other kind of supervised activity. If you walked into KYC last year at this time, you would notice an immediate difference, there are more youth now coming to KYC. Since last year, there’s been no significant difference in programming or any other obvious reason for the increase in attendance. The only common factor from last year to this year is Bridget.
For anyone who has spent any amount of time with Bridget, you’ll quickly come to understand why she is so good at what she does. Her ability to communicate effectively with youth on their level, while still retaining their respect, is impressive and appears to come naturally. Her compassion, commitment to youth and work ethic have helped to create a welcoming and structured environment that youth seem to be attracted to.
Too often when we think of community leaders, we think of people over 40 or older. Young people get overlooked because they’re perceived as not having enough experience, or they haven’t developed the right skills yet or haven’t “paid their dues”. Learning to recognize potential leaders (no matter what their age), is a very important factor for successful companies, organizations and communities. Succession planning is an essential survival skill that will help to ensure the future of any group. Bridget Manahan is a leader.
There’s only one Bridget Manahan. She’s unique, wonderful and exactly the type of young leader that we need. There are other young leaders in our community too, who if recognized and supported, could become leaders of North Grenville and not just in 30 plus years from now. In Bridget, I see an excellent founding member of a North Grenville Youth Council that could be one part of helping to cultivate young leaders. You probably know a young leader too. Why not secure this precious resource instead of telling them that there’s nothing here for them and watching them walk away? Would we let someone else take our water from us without a fight? It’s time to start fighting to secure our most precious resource.