Moving at a blistering pace, the kids’ social sub-committee has already been created, established voting rules, created a leadership structure, discussed budget concerns, and planned and executed their first event. No surprise that the December “random party” was a wild success, delivering lessons in democratic participation, co-operation, and even the limits of pizza and candy consumption.
Social committee chair Ken Inaba said the new sub-committee started as a bit of a joke as he was chatting with a youngster who had bold ideas about how the Burnaby co-op’s social events should be planned.
“He likes to make different suggestions,” Inaba said with a smile. “We were planning our Halloween events and he’d say, ‘No, you should do it like this – if you had the table set up like this, you could have the candy set up like that.’”
Spotting the budding potential of a future events planner, Inaba seized the opportunity to encourage some pint-sized co-op involvement. He raised the possibility in conversations with fellow board members, gauging the level of grown-up interest in shepherding the kids’ social crew along.
Some of the co-op’s committees already have sub-committees, so the group figured a kids’ version could work as well, Inaba said. Besides, many of the events were already geared to kids anyway, so why not have the kids involved in the planning as well?
They put up some posters and invited interested kids to a 30-minute sub-committee meeting prior to the social committee meeting. Seven kids, ranging in age from seven to 15 years old, showed up eager to get planning.
“The first order of business was to establish some kind of structure,” Inaba said. They voted in a pair of co-chairs and a secretary and, “with a little bit of adult help they had a proper meeting where people were making suggestions and voting,” much like a regular co-op meeting, he added. “The biggest challenge was that they couldn’t focus, they were all over the place!”
Eventually, they settled on a “random party” featuring activities like glow bowling, video games, dancing, and a colouring and crafts corner. One parent brought gingerbread house decorating kits, and there were even board games and a cosy tent for youngsters who preferred some quiet time.
“It was really neat to see them all play together,” Inaba said. “And the parents loved it – it was nice to see some excitement, and something dedicated just to the kids.”
Along the way the children learned important lessons in communication, compromise, how to run a meeting, and the work that goes into planning and executing an event – including the cleanup.
Mason Mathison, one of the kids’ committee co-chairs, said he wanted to get involved in the co-op and help out.
“I enjoyed thinking up ideas and hearing other people’s ideas too,” he shared via his mom, Jen Mathison. On the day of the party he said it was neat getting everything set up and seeing the outcome of their hard work.
“It was exciting to think that we made all of this!”
With the sub-committee now a proven hit, Inaba reported they’ve already added an additional youngster to the team – as well as a new grown-up on the adult social committee.
Inaba’s recommendation for other co-ops?
“If you just have one person willing to try…look for the potential in the group of kids and enjoy it.”