Madam Speaker, I rise to recognize Youth For Christ Executive Director John Courtney, who after 47 years of serving Winnipeg’s youth, will be retiring on December 31st.
After helping youth at an addiction treatment centre in Toronto, John joined Youth for Christ Winnipeg in January 1973 and in April 1977 became its Executive Director, a position he has held ever since! Under John’s leadership Youth For Christ has grown from 4 staff serving 400 young people a year in one location to now 82 staff serving 11,000 young people in eleven Manitoba communities. This includes the 160-bed capacity Camp Cedarwood which offers year-round camp experiences that specialize in youth programming.
In 2011 and under John’s leadership, the “The Centre for Youth Excellence” opened at the corner of Higgins and Main and now offers many youth programs including a host of drop in activities in the Atrium, dance, musical theatre, fine arts and piano by Masterworks, Teen Parent Support, Edge Indoor Skatepark, Rig Fitness, Rock Climbing Gym, Youth and Family Counselling, Work Counselling, ball hockey and soccer.
As well as receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from Youth for Christ Canada, John has been honoured with the Entrepreneurial Leadership Award and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal. But in my view John’s most notable quality is humility. I once heard him say if he could rewind his life and do it all over again, he would not change a thing. John is an ordinary guy with a huge heart for helping youth and a 47 year-long track record of doing it well.
Over the past 47 years John has impacted tens of thousands of young people and the ripple effect of this service is simply remarkable. John: you’ve served well, thank you. Please step back but don’t stop. Your heart and experience are needed as new leaders serve young people facing new and previously unimagined challenges. I invite all Members to join me in thanking John Courtney for 47 years of serving young people. Our province is better for it, our city is better for it, and John, we thank you.