The Reach Foundation in Stratford continues to reach out with the strong resources that have been established over the years to support youth with mental health and addiction challenges and the community.
Expanding Your Reach is a new 16-week program which they hope to offer three times a year. It offers opportunities to strengthen confidence and essential employability and life skills, while supporting youth as they transition from addiction, to recovery, to integration back to the workforce or school.
“Participants will benefit from essential skills training, volunteer, in-house and community work, daily physical activity, obtaining provincial certifications (CPR, WHMIS, First Aid and Food Safety), making connections to employers, and exploring the many options for continuing education.” says Chris Craig, Youth Services and Community Liaison.
Twelve weeks is spent at the Reach Foundation classroom, and the last four weeks is a work placement in the community, typically in the private or non-profit sector. “In the classroom, we are focusing on essential employability and life skills, including literacy and numeracy,” says Richard Fellbaum, Youth Supervisor.
“The participants have been out of school for a significant period of time, and need this refresher,” says Chris. “The longer you are away from school, the harder it is to go back.”
Reading assessment and document use is done with PEI Workplace Learning. “Youth can work on their GED, and others may already have some post-secondary education.
“There is a nutrition and physical fitness component, and we have a fitness centre on location,” says Chris. “Jason Mosher from Naturally Fit develops individualized plans for each youth and periodically checks their progress. We also work with the chef and dietitians at Sobeys to make healthy meals and shop to prepare economical meals every two weeks.”
Social enterprises raise funds and teach skills
“Our soap products were awarded the 2019 best product of the year at the PEI Buyers Market,” says Richard. “We also make beautiful cutting boards, picnic tables, and more.”
This year, they are adding landscaping to the skillsets youth will gain. “This is a great chance to get out into the community and offer services such as garden maintenance, yard clean-ups, and tree and bush trimming and removal. It is rewarding for the youth and the community to see projects come to life.” Customers can purchase soap and wood products and inquire about landscape services at the in-house store at the Reach Foundation facility.
Four-week job placements have seen great success. “From our most recent program, an aerospace company offered further work to one youth, a Resident Care Worker was hired full-time in a licensed community care facility, and a youth was hired in an after-school program with the goal of attending the Youth Worker program at Holland College in September,” says Richard.
“Queens County Residential Services has hired youth from our program, and another youth completed a placement in the recreation department at the Prince Edward Home.”
“Youth and employers are supported during the placement and both get a chance to see if the placement could result in long-term employment,” says Chris.
“We provide an opportunity for Island youth in recovery to learn new life skills, set personal goals through work experience, and develop a plan for continued education.
“The youth are surrounded by support and peers who are experiencing similar lifestyle changes.”
The next Expanding Your Reach program begins on May 6, 2019. For more information, contact Chris Craig at 902-620-0000 or email [email protected].
Funding provided by the Department of Rural and Regional Development through the Employment Development Agency and Workforce and Advanced Learning through the Canada-PEI labour market agreements.