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Crown wards get a taste of Algonquin College courses

By Ryan Paulsen, The Daily Observer

RYAN PAULSEN / DAILY OBSERVER

Algonquin College construction techniques professor Adam Johns shows a group of crown wards proper technique during the college's "Reach Ahead Day", meant to show adolescents the variety of experiential and hands-on programs offered at postsecondary institutions.

RYAN PAULSEN / DAILY OBSERVER Algonquin College construction techniques professor Adam Johns shows a group of crown wards proper technique during the college's "Reach Ahead Day", meant to show adolescents the variety of experiential and hands-on programs offered at postsecondary institutions.

Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley threw open its doors on Thursday, Feb. 20 to give roughly 60 crown wards from Renfrew, Lanark and Leeds and Grenville counties a little taste of some of its hands-on post-secondary programs.

Part of the college's contribution to the newly formed Crown Ward Education Championship Team (CWECT), the Reach Ahead Day program was designed to show the students the sheer variety of programs available to them after high school, something that Renfrew County Family and Children's Services worker Angela Duchene thinks could benefit them tremendously.

"It gives them hope," she says simply. "It gives them a sense of 'maybe I can do that someday, maybe I can go there some day.' I think it's fantastic that the doors are opening for our kids. It's great."

The other benefit public school board special education consultant Angela McGregor-Stewart sees in highlighting the experiential learning programs Algonquin has to offer is that for many kids, those are exactly the classes that keep them excited about school.

"I think it's great that we're highlighting hands-on programs, because that's the part of school that makes it enjoyable. That's what they come for. The value of it is that the kids are here, they're engaged and they're getting a sense of what college is like, and it makes them think 'yeah, I can do this, and I want this.'"

The visiting students were split into four teams, which spent most of the day rotating between four different stations in the college: emergency and protective services; culinary skills; carpentry/auto; and ECE - early childhood education.

For McGregor-Stewart, giving students who typically have a much harder time making it through the secondary school system a taste of some hands-on programs that they may not have thought they could take gives a great incentive for carrying on when they may otherwise have given up.

She also feels that having a smaller, local college campus makes postsecondary education seem that much more accessible to the students.

"The nice thing about Algonquin College in Pembroke is that it's a smaller campus, so it's less intimidating in some ways, and it's more inviting for some students."

Events like the Reach Ahead Day, and other partnership programming introduced through CWECT, are exactly what students who are crown wards need, says Duchene.

"These programs and other ones similar to them give our kids a lot more opportunities that they may not have without them," she says. "It's fantastic. The more the community comes together and helps these kids, the more they succeed."

Ryan Paulsen is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist.

ryan.paulsen@sunmedia.ca

Follow him on Twitter @PRyanPaulsen


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