Today is World Youth Skills Day. According to the United Nations, “The theme for World Youth Skills Day 2023 is skilling teachers, trainers and youth for a transformative future. It highlights the essential role that teachers, trainers and other educators play in providing skills for youth to transition to the labour market and to actively engage in their communities and societies.”
How do youth, who have experienced trauma attain life skills when they are struggling just to survive?
Desiree, Life Skills Coordinator for the Crisis Program at CHV, shares the growing need to advocate for and support vulnerable youth, so that they can learn the life skills needed to live independently and pursue the futures that they deserve.
As every youth’s journey, experiences, and circumstances are unique, CHV uses a one-size-fits-one approach and tailors each youth’s life skills support to fit their needs. Along with the hard skills required to obtain housing and employment, such as resume writing, interview prep and learning about tenancy rights, youth are also supported to learn critical soft skills. Some of these include self-care, time management, creative expression, and communication.
In addition to Desiree’s scheduled, individual youth meetings, she also hosts group drop-in life skills workshops. These workshops are designed to be fun and enable Desiree to meet youth who are not part of her case load. Along with being fun, these low-barrier workshops weave in life skills and open up the opportunity for dialogue for youth to ask questions and find out about other workshops, like Rent Smart.
Referring back to the header image, the fruit kabobs were created during a drop-in workshop. While creating the kabobs, youth learned ways to incorporate fruit into their diets, how to tell if the fruit they are shopping for is ripe, and how to cut and prepare certain fruits. In addition, there were youth who had never tasted a cantaloupe or pineapple, so they were able to broaden their paletes.
The images of the satchel decorating was from another drop-in workshop. The goal of this workshop was to think of ways that you can fulfill a need, when the desired object is outside of your budget. Upcycling existing items is one way to fulfill a need without the expense. And as Desiree mentioned, “I also snuck in some sewing skills into the upcycling project.”
Food is a cornerstone of life, and many youth who come to CHV, haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to cook. Not to mention that while living on the street or in precarious housing, youth don’t always have adequate food storage, the means to cook, or funds to buy groceries. Food management is an essential life skill that is taught to our youth at CHV. Youth are given the opportunity to learn about nutrition basics, meal planning, cooking, and budgeting for groceries.
Desiree shares that in addition to the life skills that are taught internally at CHV, she goes out into the community with youth to support the whole shopping and cooking experience. “I’ve found that youth who have recently moved out of the Crisis Program really struggle with nutrition, and often live quite far away from grocery stores. What I do, once a month with another staff member, is to go to the youth’s home, and take them to the place that they like to shop. I go to Quest Food Exchange a lot, as they are a low-cost food resource that a lot of our youth get referred to. We [Desiree and the youth] work ahead of time on a grocery list, and while shopping, we discuss nutrition basics and do price comparisons. After the shopping, we go to the youth’s home and help them do meal prep and learn how to cook with the ingredients that they just bought.”
You can see some of the delicious foods that youth learn to make in the header image. Illustrated here are a breakfast burrito, chicken ramen and fruit kabobs. Youth learn, for example, with the breakfast burrito that they can make many burritos in about 20 minutes, and freeze the ones that they don’t eat for another day when they may not have the energy to meal plan.
With the increasing cost of food, knowing how to budget, shop, and cook is essential to independent living.
If you would like to learn more about the life skills offered at CHV, tune into our latest podcast, “Life Skills Training for Youth” that is airing this Thursday (July 20th).