The Adventure Group 25 Anniversary
Non-profit group helping youth get a new start in life celebrates 25 years
by Gloria Welton
The Adventure Group was founded to support youth to develop valuable life and work skills.
“We prayed for a central place where youth could get support and direction in life, and The Adventure Group was born,” says long-time board member Donna Potts.
With dedicated staff and a strong board of directors, they have withstood many years of dealing with sustainability. They formed critical community partnerships and developed programs that have a lasting impact on the lives of the youth participants.
“After all these years, we have some pretty awesome stories,” says Roxanne Carter-Thompson, who has worked in a variety of capacities over the past 24 years, and has been the Executive Director for 14 years. “Many past participants who are buying cars and houses didn’t think that was going to be an option for them. It’s about helping them to be the best person that they can be, and to make solid decisions as they move through their careers and life.”
The Adventure Group runs intervention-based programs including the Life Management program, job coaching, summer camps, and workshops using their R.O.P.E.S course. The Rite of Passage Experience develops team skills such as effective communication, problem solving, trust building, leadership, and cooperative learning.
About the programs
“We work with youth at risk through intervention-based programs, such as our Life Management program,” says Roxanne. “The youth come from various situations such as being on financial assistance, dealing with mental health issues, criminal issues, and addictions issues. When they start with our program, they are at a recovery stage in their lives.”
This program helps youth ages 18 to 30 gain the skills needed to break generational cycles of poverty, poor health, abuse, and addictions to identify positive life and work goals. Skills are gained through participatory in-class learning, adventure-based, experiential activities, and reflection. There are separate programs for youth and for parents who are youth.
“We also have prevention-based programs that are open to the general public,” says Roxanne. “Our Summer Camps have run for 25 years. The children have a great summer experience participating in activities such as paddle boarding and indoor rock climbing. We concentrate on building self-confidence, self-esteem, problem solving skills, making decisions, and coping strategies. These skills will help our young people to overcome life’s daily challenges and support them in achieving their dreams.”
Alesha Doucette of Charlottetown took many steps to change her life. She was a single mom receiving financial assistance with no career in sight, and now she has a full-time job operating the Art and Theatre program at Murphy’s Community Centre. “The Adventure Group’s Life Management program turned my life around and gave me hope for a career that suits me and my family,” says Alesha.
Tyler Murnaghan is a past participant of The After School Program. “If you ever have the chance to participate in an Adventure Group program, take the opportunity, because amazing things can happen – it certainly did for me.”
“I came into the program to get support and begin a new journey, and it changed my entire life,” says Shawna Adams. “The late Clara Roach was a staff member when I was in the program, and she was a wonderful mentor and friend to me. I am very thankful to have known her.”
About the staff
Roxanne Carter-Thompson, Executive Director, has been employed with this non-profit group for 24 years. “My job is made easier because of everyone who supports us in the community, and for that I am so grateful. In my role, I have knocked on a lot of doors and worked on developing much-needed partnerships to provide a safe place and an effective program for youth to learn and grow.
“This community has allowed me to learn a lot, and I am grateful for the open doors and support. The relationship with Faith Bible Church to use their space and the tremendous support from the church family is one example that makes all the difference for our staff and for the youth. The office space provided by the City of Charlottetown, the collective support from provincial government departments such as Family and Human Services and Skills PEI, and funding through the federal government are but a few examples of the partners who work with us to make positive change in our community. The long list of people who have come on side over the years to partner with us, including strong employer support, is beyond measure.”
Lynn Glydon has been employed with the Adventure Group over the past 24 years. She has been the Life Management Program Co-ordinator since 2004. “I love my job. Working with people is what I do. I help them to see that there is a purpose and a role to play in their community. I help them to gain the skills needed to support them in reaching their full potential.”
Denise Cheverie also coordinates the Life Management Program and has been on staff for 10 years. “We help build self-esteem and self-confidence and help participants realize their full potential by giving them the support to help manage everyday decisions, including determining their career path. After evaluating their skills, interests, and abilities, they go on to a 14-week work experience, and they continue to access support from The Adventure Group staff to ensure success.”
Rae Sheehan, Job Developer, has been on staff for 12 years. She works with participants to prepare their resumé, job search, and develop interview skills. “I help them research, network and connect with employers to have a successful 14-week work experience. My job is to follow them during their time on the job. We support youth as they find jobs on their own. The youth contact employers, apply, and go to job interviews. I help them work through any barriers by problem-solving and looking for options and constructive ways to address issues that come up as they transition into the workforce.”
Alyse Rossiter, Events and Projects Coordinator, has been on staff for about seven months. “I help coordinate events and programs such as the 25th anniversary, and the upcoming ROPES course renovation project. I will also be on hand to help organize the clothing and housewares event coming up around Christmas.”
Marlene Gotell has recently joined the staff of The Adventure Group as a Project Coordinator on a new initiative. She will be supporting individuals to create an attachment to the workforce in specific sectors.
John Horrelt, Chair of the Board of Directors, has been a board member for 21 years. “Roxanne recruited me as an employer to help the youth with job placements and then as a board member, and I have never looked back. It is a very rewarding experience.
“We fly under the radar because of the confidential nature of the work we do, but it is important to celebrate all success stories. We have learned so much over 25 years, and we are so thankful for all the community partnerships we have formed and the relationships we have maintained with the youth.
“Many parents in the Life Management program are single moms,” says John. “The program has often resulted in amazing impacts for the whole family. The nurturing and the self-confidence gained from the program are of great value. Participants are able to reach their potential by getting direction for their career, putting a roof over their head, and getting a vehicle. This changes the pathway for the whole family.”
“One mom who came into our program wore shoes full of holes, and it was winter,” says Roxanne. “She grew and flourished in the program and was able to be employed and provide for her family. Her son was in the summer camp program. Many years later, fast forward to her son’s high school graduation, and he is walking across the stage receiving several scholarships and is on his way to university. Those are the impacts that we want to make. It is about changing the future for the youth and their children.
“Funding and support comes from the provincial and federal level, and from amazing partnerships with city of Charlottetown, community employers, and many other organizations,” says Roxanne. “As I have already mentioned, we have a supportive partnership with Faith Bible Church. I now call the walk between our building and the church our hallway, because it leads to more space for us to work, and to incredible supports such as a Food For Families room the church has created for our youth who are in need.”
For more information about The Adventure Group, call 902-628-8668.
For more about the 25th anniversary celebration, visit www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-adventure-group-25-years-1.4300163, www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/mainstreet-pei/segment/14113868.