Healthy Happy Kids Make a Healthy Happy Community!

The Finland Community Youth Program was started four years ago by Elli King when the Clair Nelson Center had just opened and Elli and other parents were observing that there was a glaring lack of activities for kids in the area. Elli very generously donated her time to get Thursday night Youth Night off the ground back then and began organizing and applying for funding. From the very beginning, the Finland Co-op has donated snacks.

Since it started, the Program has grown by leaps and bounds. From about 10 children each week in those early days, to nearly 30 kids every week in 2015, the program now requires more oversight, organization, volunteer help and funding. Two years ago, thanks to support from the North Shore Collaborative, we were able to hire Amy Gardner to coordinate the Program and Kathy Nelson as her assistant. Funding from the Northland Foundation has helped to pay the Coordinators and further develop the program.

Financial support from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation Silver Bay Area Fund has helped expand to a year-round Thursday night Youth Night instead of only during the school year. This same funding has also allowed some amazing field trips for these kids, such as pool parties at the AmericInn, bowling at the Silver Bowl, and going to see the Community Theatre productions of Fiddler on the Roof and Nunsense. The program really shines when the kids participate together in other community events. Last December some program youth attended the Finland MN Historical Society’s Pikka Joulu (Little Christmas) as a group and by the end of the evening, they were singing songs with the band and interacting well with the various adult attendees of the event. In other words, participating in community!

Last but not least, the DSACF funding has allowed the creation and expansion of Camp Finland, a week-long day camp for school age kids in June. This year is the second year of Camp Finland and we are so excited! Camp Finland provides our young people with a high quality summer camp experience, fostering a lifelong love of discovery, friendship, learning and leadership. It draws in local talent to lead various activities, as well as utilizing interested teenagers and young adults as “Counselors in Training.” For many of these children, Camp Finland is their only summer camp experience.

If this fun program interests you, please don’t hesitate to volunteer or direct your giving here! Please make a donation or contact Coordinator Amy Gardner for more information.


Leave a Comment