by Gloria Welton
The Skills Enhancement And Mentoring (SEAM) program is a seven-week summer program for high school students in the Summerside, O’Leary, and Alberton areas.
Participants are between the ages of 16 to 17 and are returning to high school in the fall. The aim is to encourage youth to complete grade 12 and continue to post-secondary education.
There are SEAM programs running each summer across the Island and this western program is delivered by Connection 2 Employment PEI.
“SEAM engages youth through applied research methods and positive employment work experiences,” says Barb Broome, Executive Director. “Job-related life skills and literacy skills are provided to help youth have a positive student experience. And there are lots of outings, community engagement, career option exposure, and fun.
“We are so thankful for the participants who came to the program this summer. The staff who were hired were outstanding as well. At the SEAM program in Summerside, Jenna Woods was the Coordinator, Josee Gallant was the Team Lead, and Lily Gallant was the Support Mentor. The programs were also very well supported by all the communities.”
At the closing ceremonies for SEAM Summerside, a number of speakers offered encouragement.
Tammy Perry, Provincial Manager for Social Programs and Development was at the event on behalf of the Premier.
“The hard work, commitment, and quality time each participant gave to the program and the incredible work of staff is obvious. You are the leaders of our future, and the world of employment is full of opportunity.”
Peter Bevan Baker, Leader of the Opposition says finding a career can be a crazy journey that ends up being quite a surprise.
“I was taught skills to do a particular job and did that for about 30 years. Then I entered politics and I felt I had absolutely no training. However, there were attitudes I developed in my previous career that I am applying now, such as wanting to develop healthy relationships, love, support, and care for the people around me, and being willing to learn and to help make the world a better place. If you bring those attitudes to whatever you do, you will have success in this world.”
Sonny Gallant, Leader of the Liberal Party started by recognizing the four women instrumental in bringing the SEAM program to Summerside, and congratulating the participants.
“At no time in the history of this province have there been so many opportunities. Every sector is looking for staff, including healthcare, construction, and bioscience, to name a few, and the opportunities are endless. I wish each participant the very best as they purse their career choices.”
Lynne Lund (née Gallant), MLA for Summerside-Wilmot, says she loves coming to these ceremonies to celebrate such great achievements.
“I congratulate all participants for completing the program, but even more so for being brave enough to show up in the first place. It is hard to step out of your comfort zone when you don’t know what to expect. It is OK to not have it all figured out. I wish someone had told me that when I was younger. When opportunities such as this one come along, keep saying yes and keep showing up, and you will learn so much about yourself and be successful.”
Basil Stewart, Mayor of Summerside says he started his career in the policing field and he had no plan to become a mayor but did so because of the support he received. “The SEAM program is a great way to get help and guidance to make future plans, and we all need that support. The City of Summerside stands behind the great work Barb and the team do with youth and families.”
Norma McColeman, Summerside Councillor/Deputy Mayor, was one of the original beginning founding staff members as Team Leader at EPYDC in the 90s. During the past 20-plus years since, she has been a strong supporter and advocate of the Centre’s staff, employability programs, and services to young adults in the community.
She congratulated the participants and said that she is now in her fifth career, which started by working with youth making a great impact on her life.
“You may not realize it now, but this is a big steppingstone for you. I am sure it was hard to come to this program not knowing what to expect, but those moments can be our greatest teachers.”
She stressed the importance of not giving up on yourself and on the things you dream and believe in.
Some participants’ comments
- Wesley says the program was great, he was never bored, and he was glad to be there.
- Dawson says the program gave him the best summer he ever had. He says he made great friends and memories that will last a lifetime.
- Nathan says this was his very first job ever and he could not think of a better way to start his work life. He was so happy to meet new people and make new friends.
- Abbey was happy to be in the program, make such great new friends, and have amazing experiences. She thanked the staff for all that they did.
- Jacqueline thanks the staff and fellow participants for making this job the best ever. She says she looks forward to seeing everyone at school this year.
- Kayla thanks all the participants personally as well as the staff for making the summer an incredible one.
- Logan says he learned a lot this summer, had a lot of laughs and fun, and was so thankful to be there.
- Ella says the seven weeks flew by and it was so great to learn so many skills while having fun at the same time.
A SEAM staff member’s employment journey
Jenna Woods has worked with SEAM for four summers, and this year she was the coordinator. “I love working with youth in the community and helping to guide and support them as we go through challenges.
“This work has given me inspiration and helped me earn my Arts and Psychology degree at UPEI. This fall, I start the two-year Bachelor of Social Work online program through Dalhousie. Studying online allows me to continue working on PEI.” She has applied to the Public Schools Branch for an Educational Assistant position.
Jenna says she settled on the idea of social work when she was in her grade 10 Career Exploration and Opportunities (CEO) class. “My teacher was amazing and encouraged all students to explore many career options that appealed to us.”
To learn more about Connection 2 Employment PEI, visit www.epydc.org or call 902-436-2815.
SEAM is funded in part by the Government of PEI Jobs for Youth Program.