A letter from Adrian Goulet: Project Manager, Circle of Supports
The Circle of Supports program will officially end at the end of this spring semester, the partners involved( COS Collaborative YMCA, BGCC, USAY) have begun the final chapter in this unique program supporting Aboriginal youth to become more successful in their academic careers.
With the work of a front line service team, Noreen Demeria, Tyler Robinson, and Kim Kakakaway, that worked closely with youth and families over a four-year period. They begun the work with young teenagers that have now progressed into senior students in their respected high schools. They worked with a cohort of 36 Aboriginal youth from selected schools of the CBE and CSSD, using a Holistic Model of Spirituality, Mental, Emotional, and Physical, we based all our programming around this Medicine wheel model, to help them progress in all these aspects of their lives.
The project goal was to have Aboriginal youth complete High School within this 4 year period, but due to project contraints we shifted the over all goal to gain success in helping our youth become more healthy in the 4 quadrants that were mentioned above, S,M,E,P. So even though most would not complete high school this year, that they would continue on to pursue success for their future.
I believe all of our youth were impacted by the COS team, through activities such as, pow-wows, skiing, culture camp, biking, hiking, sweat lodge ceremonies, smudging ceremonies, Elder Randy Bottle, Dream Catcher Conference, youth conferences, YMCA recreational pass, BGCC youth groups, USAY youth programming, tutoring, one-on-one staff support, kids up front tickets various things, weekly school lunches, and weekly COS Tuesday night program. We had a cohort of 36, but suffered attrition over the course of the four years about 30 youth were exited during this time, we officially will end with 32 COS registered youth. Eight will graduate this year and the rest next year, as we started with grade 8-9 due to not enough grade 9’s in the respected schools we were given.
I would thank to first thank my front line staff who worked very hard of the course of this special project:
Noreen Demeria, Tyler Robinson, Kim Kakakaway, They brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the COS youth and families. Many of our youth and families have become very close to the staff, it has been a hard transition for everybody involved. But we are confident with all the hard work of the team that the youth have gained new knowledge that will help them continue and be successful.
Randy Bottle was our main Elder that gave us lots of support and guidance to help the staff, youth and families, through stories, day camps, ceremonies, and blessings. The youth really appreciated having an elder such as Randy close to them and give them spiritual guidance and support, he was a pillar of support, we are all glad he was on this journey with us.
Collaborative consisted of different people of the course of this project
YMCA – Tanis Cochrane, Christy Repchuck, Jason Lidberg, Angela Brown
BGCC – Dawn Leonard, Tim Fox, Christy Morgan
USAY – Leanne Ireland,
Funder – United Way – Daisy McGee Funding officer
I thought our end of the project Banquet was most memorable in that it showed all the partners, families, staff, youth and United Way, how impactful the project was on the youth. Their was a lot of emotion that was showed through the evening, by staff and youth. The evaluation team was their to witness how much the youth have grown and appreciated all the work that the COS project did for them. There was not to many dry eyes in the audience as staff and youth gave their end of the project speeches, it was a great night that will forever be remembered by this writer.
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