Human Services Career Program takes off

A Chilliwack mentorship program that brings together university, high school and elementary school students celebrated its first year.

B.C. Minister of Education Mike Bernier visited Chilliwack Secondary students on June 16 to celebrate the first year of the collaborative Human Services Career Program.

B.C. Minister of Education Mike Bernier visited Chilliwack Secondary students on June 16 to celebrate the first year of the collaborative Human Services Career Program.

While B.C.’s minister of education Mike Bernier was in Chilliwack last week, he joined a proud group of young mentors in celebration.

It was the year-end ceremony for the Human Service Career Program (HSCP), a pilot program developed in the Chilliwack school district. The initiative is a collaborative project with Chilliwack Senior Secondary, the Ministry for Children and Family Development, UFV, and Big Brother Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley.

HSCP fosters mentorship between university, high school and elementary school students.

In its first year, 33 Grade 10 students were paired with 18 UFV mentors, and together they went through eight Saturday training workshops throughout the year.

As partners in learning, they tackled subject matter relating to human services, such as psychology, leadership, family management, social justice and more. In addition to the workshops, high school students attended one university class with their mentor.

As an evolving three-year program, the first cohort of high school students will next develop work experience by helping out in an elementary school classroom in Grade 11, and in Grade 12 they will further develop their human services skills in a non-profit agency placement.

Mentors, mentees, and parents joined school administrators, local dignitaries and Minister Bernier at Chilliwack Secondary School on June 16 to celebrate the program’s success in its first year.

“The idea of having older mentors mentoring [high school] students, who are mentoring the little ones, and everybody getting together – we’ve latched on to something that, I think, is potentially huge,” CSS teacher Steve Anderson told the crowd.

Mayor Gaetz commended the mentors for their work and said that the HSCP is something that other communities will “surely” want to emulate.

Chilliwack School District Board Chair Silvia Dyck was there to congratulate the students as well, along with several of the trustees.

“By having mentors, we know students get professional development through the sharing of knowledge, expertise and experience,” Bernier said of the Chilliwack program. “Having the guidance, encouragement and support of a trusted and experienced mentor provides students with a broad range of personal and professional benefits, which ultimately leads to a better chance of succeeding in the workplace.”

As Bernier and 16-year-old Aliya, who was also celebrating her birthday, cut into the cake, they celebrated a program that takes pride in developing emotional intelligence, EQ. The leadership and people skills that participants are building through the HSCP will be beneficial to them in all facets of their future.

A second cohort will be joining the HSCP in the fall of 2016. Learn more at www.mentoringworks.ca.