Youth Initiative Projects

I have had the fortune of working with the youth on various projects. In doing so I have fostered a relationship with many youth, youth groups/organizations and youth advocates who have been instrumental in guiding my own youth-related work as well as me assisting in their growth and development. The greatest reward is seeing youth rise to the occasion to be the leaders that can be and are!

1. Millennial Youth handbook,We’re not gonna take it: a youth’s toolbag of essential life skills for transitioning from high school to post-secondary education to the workplace
I sat down in November of 2011 and spent a year writing a book; this book has subsequently become 4 books; the first is this one and is currently in the final stages of editing. I feel this book is divinely timed, written post 2008/09 recession and addressing a huge need for our youth.

I wrote this book because I saw that these life skills are not being taught in our education system nor at home. These life skills are the foundation of many soft skills needed for our youth’s success in life. These same skills are the ones that employers are seeking. I explain the importance of these skills and how to apply them to everyday life choices, personally and professionally.

In the book I share the importance of mentoring, interning and volunteering. I discuss the importance of evaluating the ROI of education for our millennial youth’s future success. I teach the millennial youth how to navigate in the baby boomer work environment. The millennial and baby boomers value things differently. I explore that and guide the youth how to bridge the gap between the two groups and how to create relationships. There are many questions, exercises and information to help find clarity and learning. I want to arm the millennial youth with tools and resources to succeed in life and in work.

This book is also a call to action to the youth to say, ‘hey, we’re not going to accept what is out there: underemployment, large student-debt, mismatch of skills, contract positions, and increase in mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.’

The book is ready for purchase as a paperback, pdf and e-pub version. Got to order page.

2. Kidz2Kidz and First Service Brokers Ltd. (FSB)
In spring 2011, Kidz2Kidz approached one of the local businesses to participate in their drive to collect gently used sports and leisure equipment for children and families in need. The response from both FSB and some of their Insurance Provider partners, was tremendous. The FSB team saw an opportunity to give back to the community as part of their corporate social responsibility vision. The FSB team went over and above by getting a pod donated from Pods Toronto. They allowed us to “keep” the pod for over two months while we collected and housed the items until we could package it up. FSB had a banner created that showed our joint effort that was graciously donated by Barry Nudelman, President, All Star Signs. The Kidz2Kidz ‘team’ along with some of the children from those working at FSB took time to decorate the crate that initially housed the items. We successfully collected 70 boxes of items for both winter and summer sports that was donated to YMCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel, Native Child and Family Services, and Lake Scugog.

Once again Kidz2Kidz and FSB will team up for the spring 2013 drive. PODS Toronto has once again graciously donated a POD to house the items collected. This year the items will go to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel, Camp Solelim and Variety Village. I am excited about reaching more and more children and families in need. FSB has reached out to some of their insurance providers … we hope to collect more than last time. Go to Kidz2kidz to find out more.

3. Thornlea Secondary School and CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons)
Over a 9 month period (2010/2011) I facilitated a youth-driven project that brought together 10 high school students from Thornlea Secondary School in Thornhill, Ontario and 25 retired persons belonging to the group, CARP (from Thornhill area). What made this special for me is that the youths selected to participate were not part of the mainstream program, rather students from the alternative program; kids that are prone to dropping out and have difficulty fitting into the mainstream program. I never addressed them as such or even looked at them as anything other than students from the school. As I said, I treat all students/people the same.

The commitment from these students was remarkable. The project was to teach computers (basics, social media, searching tools, etc.) to the “older” CARP students. The actual teaching lasted 6 weeks. The students were responsible for creating the curriculum, delivering it and leading/teaching. They were guided by their teacher. The program ran on Wednesday from 3:30-5:30pm. The program ran so well that CARP considered taking this pilot project nation-wide for all CARP members. The students received their community hours however I believe the reward went well beyond this. Watching the students bond with their older counterparts (much older) was remarkable. The youth learned patience which is something they will take into their own lives with their older relatives. Most of all, these young student teachers were given respect and shown that they can do anything they put their mind to.

4. Connecting with the Youth and Youth Groups
Since 2009 I have been reaching out to various youth groups, connecting with them, collaborating and supporting one another. I will continue to do so, especially with the desire to create a youth movement, VOICES OF YOUTH tribe; to assist in their growth and development as they take on the leadership roles that challenge the status quo and systems and create changes that are relevant for today.
I have had the fortune of working with the Markham Youth Council, writing for their newsletter and speaking to them on various topics and issues. 2bempowered supported one of their fundraisers. This is a dynamic group of young kids, ranging in age from 14-18 year olds. These kids are committed to the community and being part of creating their mark… what they want to see.

I have met with various charities that are youth-focused, one being, The Students Commission and another being, Youth Assisting Youth. In each case there has been a synergy. The next step is to see how I can work with the youth groups and charities so that my youth work can begin to impact their lives and they can take what resonates and make it their own.

I recently (May 2013) had the opportunity to attend the five year celebration of Presenting Our Vision (POV) ; an organization to help at-risk and marginalized kids who have a desire to be in the film industry. I was so impressed with the organization and their work and look forward to create a partnership. In September 2013 we discussed me assisting with helping the kids once they ‘graduate’ from this mentoring program to transition into the workplace by taking all their life skills and technical skills and apply it. I look forward to this.

Next Steps:
* workbook for youth
* Audio “handbook” for youth
* Spanish version of book

Approach investors who align and see the value of youth investment by way of the social return on investment for each child, our communities and country; their contribution to society (financially, socially and politically) and their ability to be self-sufficient and diminish the cost around social programs, our medical system, and the judicial system.

* Create a life skills workshop for high schools. I am approaching guidance counselors and teachers to work with them first by offering my book as a tool and resource so they can guide their students to make good decisions for their post-secondary choice. I will like to add to this with different workshops that address: how to ask good questions, course selection that can open up or hinder your future, power of informational interviews, power of interning and volunteering, how to brand yourself/sell yourself for summer/intern work.

* Create a financial literacy program for the youth that inspires and brings change. Financial literacy as a topic is so overused today. I have talked to a lot of the older youth who have graduated and tell me they wish they made better financial choices. Rather than throwing them into the HOW let’s first deal with the WHY financial responsibility and awareness is so important. First the youth need to understand the importance of building a solid credit rating, second, the importance of saving money and how this can impact life choices such as which school and program they can afford for post-secondary. Answering questions like, “how will I pay for this, what is the cost” and then work backwards. Third, learning to manage your debt to make good decisions.

If you were to build a house, you must begin with a strong foundation and that is what you, the youth are missing. Your parents are not teaching you because they themselves may not know. Living beyond our means and being consumption-based and making bad choices is something that affects all ages, even your parents.

It is my intention to create a program that addresses these needs. The idea is something like the amazing race where you have to make real life decisions that impact you and have consequences and you get to see how these choices impact your future and where you need to re evaluate, i.e. return on investment for education – is your cost of education going to give you the skill sets you need to get a job when you graduate? Does spending all your money now impact your choice of school in the future when you discover that you are the one paying for university/college – thinking your parents would be able to help but cannot? There are lots of unknowns in life and we do not know when life will bring twists and turns. Imagine your computer crashing in the middle of the year. Now you are faced with the cost of replacing it or fixing it; which one makes sense and how will you pay for this? Do you have savings for this?

This is what I want to address! Let’s get our children in financial shape to deal with their uncertain future.

* Work with economists and advocates for youth engagement (Ian Bird, Canadian Foundation of Canada) to create a pilot project that brings employers, government, policy makers, students and parents together to discuss the educational, economic, political and social needs for our communities, country and world-at-large. Employers need to identify the skill sets needed for the next 10 or so years so that we can structure our education to support this, giving our youth the skills sets needed for the next 20 years. Students need to be part of the change and speak up. I believe a learning/earning education like Switzerland and Germany will provide a better SROI for our youth and country as a whole. We need to create a hybrid for education that entails critical thinking and thinking outside the box along with the ability to apply to real world application. Unions will also need to be part of the discussion so that they too can rethink their place in our economy for the best interest of the workers and Canada as a whole.

* Create a charitable organization from Kidz2Kidz

As I tell each and every one of you, this takes baby steps. Every day I do something that brings me closer to my vision and dream.