There may have been a chinook blowing warm winds into town Thursday, but a lot of vulnerable Calgary youth seized the moment to prepare themselves for when the arctic breezes return, stocking up on cold weather supplies at the 16th annual Gear Up for Winter event at the Stampede Grandstand.

Over 3,900 vulnerable youth under the age of 24 participated in the event, which also featured close to three dozen different social support agencies hoping to connect, network with and let those vulnerable young people know that there is support to be found.

“Obviously with the economy, things are a bit different, but I find Calgarians still come together to make this event happen year after year,” said Gear Up for Winter organizer Danene Lenstra.

“We’ve got tons of stuff,” she added. “35 different agencies this year, which is five more than last year, and we have a bunch of different sponsors from the community who have come together.”

Gear Up for Winter

Organizers stressed that Gear Up for Winter was not just an event to provide vulnerable youth with winter wear, but also to help them connect with service providers in a youth-friendly setting.

Some of those services include medical, dental and personal care.

“Our hope is that youth participants, who face daily struggles of: disengagement from family/friends/school/support system, addiction, justice involvement, homelessness, and mental health issues will (also) feel as though they have value and worth.”