“This program is one of the highlights of my career. It was an absolute joy to make a difference with the work that we do.”
Lisa Schwerzmann is the Associate Dean of the Fanshawe College School of Access Studies and Regional Delivery. She shares her experiences of the Reboot Plus offered through her campus in London, Ontario.
Trying Out a New Program to Help Young People Graduate High School
“Our Employment and Student Entrepreneurial Services team brought the Reboot Plus program to our attention and it was a joint effort between our two parts of the College. The program was looking for institutions across Canada to test the scalability of the project after its successful launch at Douglas College. We knew right away that this program would fit well within our Access Studies program.”
Complexities of Geography
“Cohorts were offered through our London location and our Huron and Bruce Regional Sites. It was interesting to compare the rural and city running of this program. Logistics proved a challenge as we cover a large geographical area. Getting participants from one location to another was a complexity that we didn’t fully anticipate.”
“Knowing this project is part of a research study, we were able to contribute some good information revealed through the differences of a rural versus urban setting. It was an awesome experience to have it running in multiple locations and multiple cohorts at the same time.”
Making Youth Feel Valued
“Entering participants received Fanshawe t-shirts and a swag bag at the beginning of the program. We heard that many participants wore their t-shirts to school the next day and were proud. It was heartwarming for us. I think we often forget some of the small things that matter to students.”
“We also gave them student cards to connect them to Fanshawe. I think they felt seen and heard as participants in the program. We work with each person where they’re at. Whomever the participant was when they walked in the door was who we reached out to and greeted and started working with. We didn’t ask them to be something they weren’t.”
Rallying the Community
“The London Chamber of Commerce and the Huron Chamber of Commerce both jumped at the opportunity to be involved. I credit them for the vision and their support of their members with a workforce development opportunity. Connecting the business community to a new era of employees for their workforce was as much of a priority as supporting the students in our program.”
“Our communities rallied around youth struggling to stay in school unclear of their future. Everyone wanted to help these students see opportunities beyond. Many professionals shared their own journey of not fitting in a traditional education setting. Life gets in the way for some students and an alternative path is appealing. More professionals were willing to provide informational interviews than we had space for.”
Watching Authenticity Unfold
“Faculty were amazed and humbled by the growth and development of these young people. It was obvious that some participants were really struggling. Given the opportunity to start talking about things they were interested in, and really explore that, helped them realize opportunities in their areas of interest. Little by little, over 16-weeks their authentic selves started to shine.”
“Program participants completed action plans to end their program. Facilitators were really impressed by what the participants wrote. They revealed the significant reflective process that they went through and what they had learned about themselves.”
Celebration of Efforts
Our graduates were awarded a (removed reference to night )celebration at the Goodwill Industries ballroom. There was a beautiful set up: tablecloths, napkins, balloons, gifts, certificates, and a pink carnation for each participant. I think the participants were a little overwhelmed. Many of them wouldn’t have attended something like this.”
“Members from the London Chamber and the Thames Valley District School Board gave words of encouragement. Watching these participants’ faces light up when they received their certificates was heart-warming. Their body language showed me they were proud of themselves. We all felt this sense of ‘oh wow’ as the event wrapped up.”
Creating the Space to Show Up
“We needed to show up. These participants needed us to give them our very best. In the end, we met each other half-way and created something amazing. This was a significant learning opportunity for us. Some participants lives were changed. If only one person realized that they were worthy, and had value, and were going to do great things in the world, we succeeded. We are grateful and humbled to be a part of this.”
Giving Thanks for Funding
“We were grateful for the funding. This program had the funding from the Future Skills Centre which allowed us to do things we wouldn’t usually be able to do. Providing honorariums for the Chambers’ involvement helped get this off the ground. Providing food for the participants was helpful in creating an environment where youth could learn. We are often asked to do so much with very little. Knowing that we had money to provide these things and help the program work the way it works was really appreciated.”
“A couple of highlights of our participants’ successes include:
- A participant decided they wanted to work in a health-related career and applied, and was accepted to a Pre-Health Pathways program at Fanshawe.
- An informational interview with a bank landed one participant a summer job.
“Coming to a different environment which holds promise for the future gave these participants a fresh start. They can now picture themselves as college students. They can apply to Fanshawe. Any college of the country is open to them. They participated as a Fanshawe student. They were part of an academic program. The sky is the limit.”
Expanding From a Problem to Solve
As a program, we felt very supported. The dedication of the Douglas College Team, and PEERS Employment & Education Resources was phenomenal. This program’s origins began with a problem to solve: students who were not succeeding and Faculty at Douglas College asked themselves: “I wonder what would happen if..” It’s very cool to see that, several years and iterations later, this program is impacting youth across Canada. London and the Southern Ontario communities would welcome this again.”
With funding from the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre, we are examining whether a hope-centred education and career development program can help youth find their purpose.
Le projet Reboot Plus est financé par le Centre des Compétences futures du gouvernement du Canada.