Take the lead, pay it forward< More Stories
“This course is a perfect combination of taking something you’re passionate about and melding it into something you can do for someone within your community or within your scope of communities,” says Joanne McDonald, chair of human services. It also helps students develop real-life, hands-on experience such as writing and pitching proposals, as many non-profit organizations are required to do for funding.
From creating newborn packages for the Wainwright General Hospital to providing cleaning services at the Ronald McDonald House in Edmonton, starting an impromptu drama class in Vermilion and making baskets for adolescents with mental health concerns, each group presented their project to a panel of judges in a Dragon’s Den-like setting. Once they had approval from the panel and secured any funding they required – the 13 groups had four weeks to implement their project.
One group of students, including CYC student Alicia McWatters, assembled 50 care packages for youth at CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health (CASA) in Sherwood Park. Distributed evenly between male and female youth, the bags contained everyday necessities, including contraceptives and feminine hygiene products.
“We banded together because we all wanted to help today’s young adults,” says McWatters. “Sometimes we (as a society) forget about the teenagers, but they are our next generation. We wanted to remind them that they are equally as important and are not left out.”
While at CASA House, students learned about the day-to-day operations and services the foundation provides for 12-18-year-old adolescents with mental health concerns.
The adolescents' stay at CASA House allows the family to separate from the conflict and focus on rebuilding their relationship with their adolescent through individual growth and resolving barriers that impede the relationship. CASA provides assessment and treatment services to approximately 4,000 infants, children and adolescents annually as stated in their recent annual reports.
“The whole experience was a huge eye-opener for all of us,” says McWatters.
Over the course of the project, both McDonald and Kelly Mazerolle, a human services instructor, had the opportunity to see the students grow in different ways. One mark of this growth was highlighted in how the students represented themselves as professionals, and in turn well-represented Lakeland as an organization.
“We have heard from various organizations that they would be more than happy and excited to have a Lakeland practicum student,” says Mazerolle. “The organizations saw the passion, the creativity and the innovation each of the students brings with them.”
“What I found most rewarding was to witness the students transition from a student to a professional,” adds McDonald.
Photo: A group of first-year child and youth care and second-year early learning and child care students visited CASA House as part of their HS 202 Leadership Activities project. The group donated 50 care packages for youth containing everyday necessities, including contraceptives and feminine hygiene products.