New year, new choices for local youth

Joel
Joel van der Veen
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Voltage attendees cheer for Edmonton-based group Junkyard Poets.

Smiling as he surveyed the line of teenagers waiting outside Hillcrest Apostolic Church to enter this year’s Voltage, Joe Dueck observed that the annual New Year’s party just keeps getting better each year.

Dueck, the founder and director of Joe’s Place Youth Centre, said that for Voltage, 2012 was “one of the biggest years that I remember.”

“Choose Your Future” was this year’s theme, featuring activities, games and the night’s feature skit based around Star Wars characters, scenes and imagery.

Dueck told youth in attendance that the decisions they make today will affect the directions their lives take.

“We want you to know that you are not alone,” he said. “And it is never too late to make the right decision.”

Staff from Joe’s Place, along with more than 100 volunteers, organized the event, which kicked off at 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve at the Main Street North church and ran until 6 a.m. the following day.

Voltage is billed as Saskatchewan’s largest chem-free New Year’s Eve party for teens, offering a drug- and alcohol-free alternative. The Times-Herald was among this year's platinum sponsors.

Planning took place over several months. Staff and volunteers spent four 12-hour days setting up the church for the party. Including youth, volunteers and skit cast members, more than 500 attended on Monday night.

The evening’s feature skit starred high schoolers Tristan Diggins and Chantal Morin as two Jedi who must choose between the dark side and the light side, along with a cast of close to 40.

“It’s always a relief when the main session skit is over and everything has gone well, which it did,” said Dueck, “even though we had some technical difficulties that forced us to switch the order of things ... But in the end I don’t think anyone noticed.”

To read the rest of the story, check out Wednesday's edition of the Times-Herald.

Organizations: Hillcrest Apostolic Church, Place Youth Centre, The Times-Herald Main Street North church

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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