“When people take away your hope, you tend to disappear:” Fanshawe restoring hope in youth

Image of a woman smiling. Text includes the Reboot Plus logo and the text: Reboot Plus is a youth education and career development program delivered in partnership by Douglas College and PEERs Employment and Education Resources. CREDIT: REBOOT PLUS
The program will be the same length as a regular semester, offering the students to learn more about themselves and their interests.

Fanshawe College and the London Chamber of Commerce have partnered up to provide a youth education and employment program. The 16-week program, called Reboot Plus, gathers participants ages 17 to 24 with diverse backgrounds and atypical high school experiences.

“The whole genesis of the program is a personalized approach to helping students who might not fit into the traditional grade 12 classroom,” said Darlene O’Neill, director of Employment and Student Entrepreneurial Services. “They might be feeding their brothers and sisters before they go to school, or they could have mental health challenges, be homeless, any number of things that challenge young people who don’t traditionally fit in.”

Teens will complete career assessments and information interviews, build essential skills, and develop career and education action plans. The program, which was designed in partnership with Future Skills Centre of Canada, creates individual approaches to help them overcome their challenges.

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“There’s a component of the program where participants will identify their career paths that they might be interested in and they will be looking to do informational interviews with people in those fields,” said Kristen Duever, Vice President of Public Affairs with the London Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber’s role is going to be as a liaison between those participants and the business community to help them find the right people that suits their own career goals that they can interview.”

This program is going to be done by various colleges around the country, including Humber College, as well as colleges in Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, and British Columbia. Fanshawe has two cohorts of students, one from London, and one from Huron-Bruce.

Fanshawe faculty went to B.C. for the training session on this program. Upon arrival, O’Neill said they met a BIPOC girl from Scarborough. She was referred to this program after moving to B.C. with her family. The guidance counsellor referred her because she was disassociated in class, not engaging, and falling asleep.

“They found out through the program that it wasn’t she was disengaged, it was that she was getting up very early in the morning to help her younger siblings get ready for school and make sure they ate before they went to school,” said O’Neill. “Her parent had addiction issues and so she just wanted to make sure that everybody was OK. When we met her, she presented her portfolio and it was amazing. But the most amazing thing was her confidence and how she spoke.”

That same girl they met is now a nursing student at Douglas College.

“That sold me right away on the program. If we can instill that kind of hope in young people and help them understand there is more to life with somebody who cares about you, then we’re gonna do it.”

O’Neill added that if students come through this program and are interested in programs at Western University, they will arrange that for them as well.

“We want the students to just have hope. When people take away your hope, you tend to disappear.”