Those interested in finding out what the Park Extension Youth Organization, PEYO, has been up to this past year were invited to an information session on June 15. PEYO's executive director, Guylaine Hébert opened the session by explaining PSOC, the provincial Programme de Soutien aux Organismes Communautaires, provides PEYO $38,000 per year and requires that these information session be done.
The yearly operational budget of PEYO is more than $1.5 million.
“Our main mission is to improve the quality of life for people in the neighbourhood,” Hébert said.
She and PEYO's computer and multimedia coordinator, Fresler Noel, reviewed the organizations services and activities to an audience that filled out significantly during the hour-long presentation, which was followed by PEYO's annual general meeting.
PEYO has a department for 6 to 15 year-olds, which runs after-school activities in French, and keeps kids busy with sports, dance, circus arts, singing, and more. The department runs the Explorers summer daycamp for nearly 400 students at a cost of $30 per week. For the last three weeks in summer, some daycamp children with scholastic difficulties get academic attention to prepare them for the school year. Hébert noted the daycamp employs youth who were once daycamp attendees. “So it's a process of empowerment.”
The department runs a winter camp during the week-long school break in March, lunchtime and Saturday activities, games in local parks, a sleigh ride through Jarry Park in the winter, and other holiday events.
“Sports have always been the heart of PEYO,” said Noel, noting the organization's origins in 1967. He listed programs offered, including hockey, soccer, flag football, a newly reintroduced cricket program, and a figure skating program he said was in high demand, with a ongoing waitlist. The sports department also offered family yoga last year, and a program to help 4 to 6 year-olds build motorskills.
Hébert reviewed PEYO's art and storytelling program, with has activities inspired by art therapy, she said, particularly for newly immigrated children. Children are encouraged to tell stories about leaving their mother country, and their arrival in Canada. “It allows kids to build self-esteem and helps them integrate,” Hébert said.
A scrapbook activity was also offered for immigrant families to build a family history.
A Wednesday tea for teachers and other youth workers is offered by PEYO, which Hébert said was a good chance to exchange ideas and foster mutual understanding.
PEYO's multimedia department, Noel said, was offering low-cost introductory courses for skills like digital photography and film-making. “We've also helped a lot of kids working on video projects,” Noel said.
The program X-Art, targetting 16 to 30 year-olds, offers non-structured activities like billiards, ping pong, and social time, and also music, sports, and dance programs, writing workshops, and film nights. Last month the X-Art participants put on a fashion show with clothes made out of recycled materials – with instruction from Montreal fashion designers.
Hébert reviewed the activities of the PEYO's kitchen, which serves lunch on weekdays for $4.50, though is now on a break until August 9. The kitchen partners with Filia to produce some Meals on Wheels lunches in the neighbourhood, and also provides lunches in local schools. This latter program provides part-time work for several local women, Hébert said.
PEYO offers a tax clinic, fundraisers like hockey and bowling tournaments, blood donations clinics twice a year, a Christmas dinner, and the annual Parc-O-Fête.
The information session ended with no opportunity for questions, and the general meeting followed.
Despite competition for five open board seats, PEYO elected all returning board members. The new PEYO board consists of: president Abderrahmane Ben Hassel, vice-president Perry Calce, secretary Walter Ziobro, treasurer John Burnett, Madeleine Laurin, Nizam Uddin, Marc-André Felix, Akthar Naseem Michael, Mostafa Ben Kirane, and Muhammed Ahmed Waquar.