Change it Up! is a unique program designed for Aboriginal youth (15-30) that have not been successful in traditional education. As a result, these youth face multiple barriers on their path to employment and active citizenship. In many cases, a lack of success in school has built negative associations with education—and that may stop them from attending typical school-based training programs that are offered.
This project is about taking a new approach: one that engages youth as “agents of change” within their own community, making real-life community development projects the central focus of the learning process. These community development projects provide an entirely different way to build skills, gain work experience and restore confidence, one that is not based on typical classroom instruction. Self discovery, recognition of personal strengths and the development of key skills are also developed through high results, strength-based programming to support participants throughout their projects.
Now in the second session, we are happy to report that the program has been a great success. For starters, there was a retention rate of 92% in the first session and the second session now has a waiting list. Initial pilot testing results showed an increase in resiliency levels, positive shifts in factors such as restraint, planning and decision making and decreases in risk behaviours such as aggression, alcohol abuse and gambling.
Testimonials from the participants include feedback that the program has been life changing, that it has given them purpose and that it has given them the ability to think positively about their future and reduce destructive behaviours. Substance abuse has dropped among participants and levels of hope for their future have increased. Please see the program video for first hand accounts of participant success.
The program has also worked to build capacity in the community in several ways. Social capital has been developed through numerous community events, speakers and dinners. As a result, interactions are occurring among groups of people who may not have interacted in the past. Positive recreational opportunities for youth have been added through the various projects that participants developed, and businesses have been started to address gaps in services. Keep visiting this site to get updates on the project.
If the first few years of life include support for growth in cognition, language, motor skills, adaptive skills and social-emotional functioning, the child is more likely to succeed in school and later contribute to society.
Programs at Work