BGC Airdrie Connects Youth To Their Community

Story by Ahman Panjwani

Spring 2023

To engage Airdrie youth with their community, BGC Airdrie (BGCA), formally The Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie, is promoting leadership, inclusivity, community engagement, volunteerism, and respectful relationships with their youth members through two leadership programs: Torch and Keystone.

The Torch program, for grades 5-8, is designed to help youths keep connected to the community in which they live. By connecting these youths to society, they can plan their own programs based on what they find important.

According to the BGCA website, “Torch helps kids develop leadership skills and self-esteem in a respectful, diversified environment. The program also offers the opportunity to give back to others and gain a sense of responsibility that comes with making their own decisions.”

Torch is used as a launching pad for the Keystone program.

The Keystone program, for grades 9-12, focuses on aiding teens 15-plus, by teaching leadership skills, career development, economic and political awareness, social recreation, communication skills, conflict resolution, advocacy, financial budgeting, fundraising, integrity, the value of hard work and its impact on community involvement. With these acquired skills, they can focus their time and energy on creating a positive influence around them.

Keystone members plan activities based on their own interests and the needs of their community, giving them the chance to be involved and help change their community and their world, says the website.

The members of Keystone have opportunities to attend retreats and meet members from other BGCs throughout Canada.

“These programs are designed to promote leadership qualities in youth through volunteerism and community give-back projects,” says Sammy Morros, Manager of Youth Programs for BGCA.

These leadership programs have been a part of BGCA for over 20 years and have had approximately 600 total participants.

“It’s amazing to see our members come up through the program over the years,” says another BGCA staffer. “Many youths start in Torch and continue to Keystone, which I think speaks to the team this program has created.”

Each leadership program intakes 15 members per school year with enrollment starting in August. Both programs have a $55 enrolment fee which covers the full school year.

The Torch program runs on Monday evenings, while Keystone runs on Tuesday evenings at the BGCA Youth Centre in Airdrie.

The BGCA, founded in 1979, is part of BGC Canada and is a not-for-profit organization serving children, youths and families in Airdrie and the surrounding area with currently over 800 active member families in Airdrie.  They offer affordable recreational and social-emotional programming, which is designed to help members make friends, develop new skills, and create positive connections to their community.

Besides the leadership programs, BGCA offers programming for grades kindergarten to 12, with specialized programming supporting youth up to age 30. They also provide childcare, youth drop-in, after-school care, evening programs, and academic and employment support in all its five Airdrie locations, Irricana, Crossfield, Carstairs, Beiseker, and Rocky View County. These programs are inclusive and open to all who fit within the stated age range.

If you know a young person who wants to be more engaged with their community, learn leadership skills for the future, and wants to make life-long relationships, encourage them to check out one of two leadership programs offered by BGCA this August.

With the rise of the cost of living, the BGCA is accepting monetary donations, as well as time donations to help fund and run their organization. If you would like to assist in giving these children the opportunity to grow and learn or want more information, visit


Ahman Panjwani is a SAIT Journalism student completing his practicum with airdrielife.