Staff and graduates of RRC's Youth Recreation Activity Worker program were joined by community leaders and local dignitaries earlier this month, to celebrate the program's 10th year of making a difference in the lives of inner city youth.
The program — which prepares young adults (aged 18 to 29) to work with inner city youth by providing healthy recreational activities — was launched in 2001, in response to a need for trained staff to facilitate drop-in programming at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg.
Building on existing materials from RRC's Child and Youth Care program, a new 10-month certificate program was created to train young adults as recreational leaders.
Students involved with the program — all of whom face multiple barriers themselves — study such topics as child and youth care, psychology and first aid. Many go on to find employment with Boys and Girls Clubs and other inner city youth agencies, and as childhood educators and teacher's aides.
Tiffany Saites, a single mother of two young daughters, says the program gave her a greater understanding of how best to work with inner city kids, Aboriginal children, and new immigrants. The experience didn't just help with her career goals — it also helped her as a mother.
"I find I have a lot more patience with my kids now, because I know where they're coming from," said Saites, who's now considering the second year of RRC's Child and Youth Care program, in order to pursue a career in youth corrections.
"It's easier to meet their needs and it's easier to talk to them … It's like I have an emotional tool kit for dealing with children now."
RaeAnn Thibeault, Dean of the School of Continuing and Distance Education at RRC, hopes the program can continue changing lives for another 10 years.
"We are thrilled to mark the 10th anniversary of the Youth Recreation Activity Worker program — the product of a rich and rewarding partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg," said Thibeault.
"By exposing participants to the value of 'paying it forward,' the program has had an immeasurable impact on the lives of both our graduates and the communities they serve."
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