At Nusdeh Yoh Elementary School in Prince George, BC young people are building up their leadership and critical thinking skills through the PLAY program. “We go to Nusdeh Yoh, [which means] ‘Home of the Future’,” says PLAY participant Lars Clark, age 12. “We have a leadership program for where we plan things, and [play] volleyball, hockey and basketball,” he describes the program.

This Halloween, children and their families in Prince George had an alternative to trick-or-treating, thanks to the leadership of the youth in the program, who planned and hosted a Healthy Halloween Spooktacular event.

“It was Halloween, so we just thought of doing something fun for Halloween,” Trenton Louison, 12, explains the idea for the event. “And it was to burn off energy for the little kids before they got hopped back up on it after Halloween trick-or-treating,” Lars adds.

“Our goal was […] to make sure [the kids] get a belly of warm food and just have a plan B as opposed to just collecting candy. They could come in and play games, and make it more of a family event,” explains Community Mentor D’Arcy Davis.

“We had a haunted hallway and a slime table,” describes Kyla Macdonald, age 12. “And we also gave out pizza at the front.”

“There was mini golfing, [a] haunted swamp [game] and a Tub of Guts thing,” says Lars. “Little kids […] went ‘fishing’ in the haunted swamp and I attached prizes to their fishing pole,” Lars explains. The prizes were toothbrushes and toothpaste, to encourage healthy dental care among trick-or-treaters.

“[The Tub of Guts was] a bucket with weird-feeling things like spaghetti and peeled grapes so they feel slimy,” explains Kyla. The youth also organized a cake walk and musical chairs.

“[…] On the night of the event, these guys were all working away and they had friends come in and try and drag them out to go trick or treating […] and they wouldn’t go until they were finished,” D’Arcy says with pride. “They obviously […] thought that this was important.”

With the Healthy Halloween Spooktacular event under their belts, the youth at Nusdeh Yoh are brimming with ideas. “[I’ve] become way more of a thinker,” says Trenton. “When people are planning stuff out, I can think of more ideas.” They are already brainstorming ideas for their next event. “I want to do a treasure hunt. It would be like a Christmas treasure hunt!” says Kyla. But she hopes for more youth to get involved in the future so that even more ideas are brought to the table. “[I want] to have people from outside our school and in the community to come help instead of just our school.”

“We weren’t sure how it was going to go,” says CM D’Arcy of the Halloween event. “We ended up having over 150 people come and everybody had a great time, […] and that’s because of these [youth] and the show they put on, and the planning they did.”