With a modest amount of funding and community buy-in, organizers of a new work experience program say it could make a big difference for high risk youth in Williams Lake.
Starting in the new year, the Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake and District and Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society hope to place up to 15 youth in a work-place setting to gain skills and confidence.
“We envision youth doing two, four-hour shifts of work experience a week, supervised by one of our staff members, “ said Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society executive director Sarah Jackman. “With the funding we have we would give the youth an honorarium, but hope the business or organization that offer them the opportunity would provide the mentorship. They don’t have to pay them anything.”
The $16,000 two-year funding for the project comes from Skilled for Success, a Boys and Girls Club national grant, said program services leader Linda Bingham.
“Our intention is to place youth with a supervisor they already have a relationship with,” Bingham said.
Through the program, youth 15 years old and up will gain hands-on experience, learn about employee expectations in a supportive setting and hopefully emerge with a resume and a reference letter.
Bingham said the funding will also help low income youth with hair cuts or whatever they need to be presentable for a workplace.
Initially the program will offer workshops to the youth in financial literacy, Food Safe and basic first aid.
“We will also be doing individual programming for specific youth and tailoring their work experience to certain aspects of their needs,” Bingham said. “And we will work with the business owner or organization so we are not setting the youth up for failure.”
Bingham and Jackman plan to contact local Rotary clubs, the BIA and the Chamber in the coming weeks about the program.
“At community meetings people often ask what they can do to help reduce crime rates and tackle other issues in Williams Lake,” Jackman said. “Supporting this program is a step in the right direction because when it comes to community safety it is up to the community.”