A loving parent prepares their kids for life in countless ways until they take those first tenuous steps out into the world. By giving a gentle reminder about manners, sharing a personal anecdote about weathering a life challenge or even showing how to tie a tie, a parent will guide their children to grow into confident and successful adults.
But most of our kids have had disrupted or damaging relationships with parents, so they never learned these careful, consistent lessons. With the help of our Life Skills Program, our youth receive customized workshops and counselling on both hard and soft life skills, so they can move successfully to a productive and fulfilling future.
“The goal is to teach them the tools to survive on their own,” explains our Life Skill Program Coordinator Stacey. “A lot of our kids lacked guidance from their parents to succeed.”
Our varied workshops include skills like cooking, healthy lifestyle, housekeeping, managing stress, volunteering, goal setting, budgeting and exercise. A wide range of talented staff and volunteers offer over 30 workshops every month based on gaps the youth have identified. The workshops incorporate different learning styles with a focus on hands-on experience.
Youth in our longer-term residence, Rights of Passage, meet with our Life Skills Coordinator at least three times during their stay with us to complete a full assessment. They also attend workshops every month. Youth living in our Crisis Shelter and former residents now living in the community can also attend workshops.
Vance, a youth who moved out a few months ago, still proudly holds the record for attending 79 Life Skills workshops. He struggles with learning disabilities and mental health issues. When he came to us, his family relationships were strained and he felt like they never had any faith in him. The encouragement he received from Stacey and other staff meant a great deal to him and he strived to learn all he could.
“Vance called me just the other day on the phone. He just wanted to tell me he had cooked one of the meals from a cooking workshop from memory and it turned out great,” Stacey said. “He also wanted me to know that he cooked for his family over the holidays and they were just blown away.”
Stacey ensures that workshops are tailored to the needs of each youth. “One girl gets very nervous in group settings, so I work with her one-on-one. We recently went to the bank so I could help her open an account,” she says. “Another girl was showing potential in a regular dance workshop we offered, so the instructor is letting her take classes for free at her studio.”
While they are building competencies that will help them through life, youth are also learning what healthy relationships feel like. The friendships formed among the youth at these workshops create a sense of community for the kids. The bonds forged between the youth and workshop facilitators help our kids learn to trust the positive guidance of adults.