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Miyomahchihowin: In Good Health
Pathways to Employment.
In 2016, with funding support from Urban Partnerships program of the Alberta Native Friendship Centre, Miyomahchihowin began as a pilot project aimed at providing pathways for Edmonton Indigenous youth to develop personal skills and gain employment or volunteer opportunities in the areas of sport, recreation, health promotion, and active living. In partnership with the Edmonton Public School Board, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education, and Alberta Native Friendship Centre, Ever Active Schools developed Miyomahchihowin as one effort in addressing the education and employment barriers faced by Indigenous youth.
SPRING BREAK CAMP
In its first iteration, Miyomahchihowin took the shape of a spring break camp. Students participated in training to earn certifications in such disciplines as volleyball and soccer officiating, soccer coaching FUNdamentals and Standard First Aid, all while earning high school credits for their efforts. While we garnered many learnings from the pilot, the reception to the work was overwhelmingly positive.
ONE CREDIT WEEKENDS
While spring break camp continued to exist, Miyomahchihowin morphed into a second form: one-credit weekends. One credit weekends follow the same formula of trainings to earn certifications and credits for Indigenous high school students; however, the trainings were culturally based. Students participated in outdoor survival skills and moose hide tanning weekends, earning credits for their work and participation.
In 2020, in partnership with Enoch Cree Nation, and Land-Based Learning teacher Chelsea Cattroll, we hosted a Traditional Foods Camp at Maskêkosak kiskinomâtowikamik School. High school students from the Nation earned credits and certifications in exchange for three days of hands-on learning. We taught students how to process various wild game from harvest to table, so that they would gain a deeper understanding of the ways different animals can be utilized and how to handle harvested animals with care and respect.
IN GOOD HEALTH
Over the 2018/2019 school year, Miyomahchihowin again evolved to serve refugee and immigrant students in Edmonton through the spring break camp model. The project, funded by RBC Future Launch, became known as “In Good Health” (the English translation of the Cree word "miyomahchihowin".) Over the week of spring break camp, students earned credits for certifications. The unique feature of this spring break camp is that the City of Edmonton will support these youth through the Leader In Training (LIT) program to earn valuable work experience. Simultaneously, students will earn high school work experience credits.
The In Good Health YYC project launched in Calgary in 2018 with the creation of a full-semester exploratory program called Recreational Leadership, in partnership with The City of Calgary, the Calgary Board of Education, and the New Central Library with project funding from JumpStart. True to its roots in the Miyomahchihowin pilot, the shared goals of the program are to provide pathways to employment in the fields of recreation and human services through opportunities to earn high school credits, gain volunteer and work experience, and engage in relevant training.
The first cohort of students graduated from the program in May of 2019. Through our partnership with the City of Calgary - Calgary Neighbourhoods Business Unit, students had the opportunity to apply for summer employment as recreation leaders in day camp programs across the city. As a result of their participation in the program, students were well-equipped with the knowledge and skills to move through the application and interview processes and 14 Recreation Leaders were successful in obtaining summer jobs with the City of Calgary.
Through the Fall 2019 term, 13 students engaged in foundational training in leadership and recreational programming and had the opportunity to earn up to 13 high school credits in Career and Technology Studies and Work Experience. Students put their new skills into practice through volunteer opportunities.
The Winter 2020 semester saw 21 students enrolled with the opportunity to earn 13 total credits and volunteer to facilitate spring break camp at the Central Public Library. On March 15th, 2020, all K- 12 schools were closed in response to COVID-19 and in the weeks that followed, many Calgary Board of Education programs, including Recreational Leadership, were moved online. Although this disruption impacted program delivery and certification opportunities, it also saw the Recreational Leadership program get local, national, and international attention for the volunteer project that was born from COVID-related public health measures. Students created The Joy4All Project: a hotline with pre-recorded messages, jokes, and stories, aimed at seniors and other populations experience social isolation during COVID.
Since its launch on April 10, 2020, the project has received national and international media attention for its impact on social isolation for seniors. Media outlets including CBC, CNN, BBC and Global News, and celebrities Billy Crystal and James Corden, helped to spread the word.
When the Recreational Leadership course ended in June 2020, The Joy4All Project transitioned to the In Good Health portfolio where it lives today, under the leadership of a stellar group of youth volunteers. We recently marked the 1-year anniversary of The Joy4All Project and we had a lot to celebrate!
- More than 38,000 phone calls have been made to the hotline
- 9 students were hired for 2020 summer employment with The Joy4All Project, through grant funding from RBC Future Launch and support from Ever Active Schools
- We received a Minister’s Senior Service Award for Innovation from the Government of Alberta
- The Joy4All Project disbursed $3,000 worth of bursaries to support ongoing learning opportunities for student project leaders
- Student volunteers presented the project at multiple conferences, including Shaping the Future and teachers’ conventions in the Greater Edmonton and Central Alberta regions
- 2 post-secondary students completed their practicum experiences with the project
We continue to innovate and are exploring partnerships with local Calgary organizations to host intergenerational virtual events. Experience Joy4All yourself: call 1-877-JOY-4ALL (569-4255), visit joy4all.ca or view us on Twitter and Instagram (@Joy4AllProject).
0%of students reported that the program prepared them to find a job and create resumes that reflects their skills and experience
0%of students reported being a better role model for peers and younger kids because of the program
0%of students reported that their perceptions and biases have been affected in a positive way as a result of the program
0%of students reported feeling more positive about their future
“I was able to learn how to lead and understand the principles of what makes a good leader.”
“I learned how to identify my own biases and put them aside so I can treat everyone equally.”
“I feel confident and experienced to be a summer camp leader for youth.”
“Teamwork and learning to grow and work together is what I learned the most about. It provided me with great connections and skills to use in my adult life.”
“It is a great opportunity for people like me who don’t think they can get into a career like this to prove to themselves that they can.”