We can often take for granted the life lessons we receive from our families...how to cook, how to manage our money or even the support we get in finding out first place away from home. For youth in Winnipeg's foster care system, those life lessons have often not been imparted and the transition to living on their own can be quite challenging.
When our Winnipeg chapter of HOPE worldwide Canada heard of these often lost opportunities for youth in care they were eager to find a way to help fill the void. Our chapter is currently in its 5th year of providing life skills instruction to youth who are preparing to age out of the child welfare system and live independently. HOPE volunteers have developed the course material based on the real needs of the youth and teach 8 of the 9 topics offered to youth ages 14 to 21.
In these classes, youth learn how to budget and manage their money based on real life scenarios – what they will actually receive when they are living on their own – and gain a better understanding of the value of working and saving their money. They also learn how to prepare a resume, look for a job and conduct themselves in a job interview. Classes are also offered on personal safety, finding an apartment, conflict resolution, nutrition, and in the cooking class they prepare a few meals together.
The program has also been modified by our dedicated volunteers to be taught to other groups. One such group is the Exit Up program run by Siloam Mission. The Exit Up program assists young adults ages 18-25 years who were previously in the foster care system and are reaching out for support and assistance with establishing themselves in this new stage in life.
Our chapter recently received a Youth in Philanthropy grant from The Winnipeg Foundation to help develop practical experiences for youth in care to learn these life skills. Starting in 2016, the Winnipeg chapter launched the Monthly Meets program where volunteers take small groups on monthly excursions for practice in obtaining these life skills. The youth are guided through a grocery store to learn comparing prices and shopping tricks, have a mock job interview with actual Manitoba employers, visit a bank to learn how to set up accounts and use the ATM safely, learn self-defense techniques from a trained coach. Topics and teaching methods will be geared to best meet the youths’ needs.
Life Skills programming is really a win-win for everyone involved. Statistics show that close to half of individuals experiencing homelessness spent some time in the child welfare system and one of the biggest risk factors is a lack of practical life skills. Our diverse group of volunteers are able to share their real life experiences and expertise with the youth. Our hope is that this program can make a difference by helping to break a cycle of homelessness and poverty right here in Winnipeg.
Life Skills Classes:
Renting an Apartment
Monthly Meets Excursions:
Banking and credit cards
Cleaning the house
For more information on the Life Skills classes or our Monthly Meets program, please contact Kimberlee Potter (Program Director) or Krista Wiebe (Chapter Director).