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A new go-kart camp at Okanagan College is offering youth more than just the thrill of sitting in the driver’s seat this summer – it’s giving girls ages 9-12 a week of hands-on training and the chance to test-drive a career in the trades.
Girls can Go-Kart Too! is a pilot project by the College and the Industry Training Authority (ITA). The ITA stepped forward with more than $6,000 in support to help bring the project to life as part of the College’s popular CampOC summer camps.
“Our goal in working with the College to create this camp was to give young girls an engaging, exciting and welcoming glimpse into what a career in the skilled trades is all about,” explains Gary Herman, CEO of the ITA.
This week a dozen girls stepped into the Automotive shop at the Kelowna campus, tackling everything from designing their go-karts to working on small engines, changing the oil, replacing tires, testing and fixing brakes, and installing ignition kill switches – all under the watchful eye of College instructors.
Jordan Chahley is one of those campers.
“What I love about this camp is that we learned how to do design and build our go-karts,” says the 11-year old. “Last year I went to the 3D printing camp, but this one is different and for me it was a lot more fun. When my mom suggested it, I knew this was the one for me. After camp is done, I look forward to being able to help my dad change the oil.”
While the camp was designed to help girls build their skills in the shop, connecting them with mentors was another priority.
“The girls are learning from Red Seal Endorsed College instructors and they’re also getting mentorship, support and encouragement from the Women in Trades Team, WITT Industry Mentors and WITT foundation participants,” explains Nancy Darling, Program Administrator for the College’s Women in Trades Training Initiative (WITT).
“And that last part – connecting them with mentors and role models, young women they can identify with – is perhaps most important. The hands-on training they’re getting is awesome, but those opportunities to interact with and receive encouragement from women in trades will hopefully be extra motivating and meaningful to these girls.”
After ensuring their go-karts were in good working order, the girls had a chance to put their creativity to work painting and decorating their carts.
Today, they took to the racetrack – which they also designed – to cap off the week with a friendly race and a BBQ with their parents, their instructors and officials from the College and the ITA.
“Above all, we hope this group of girls had fun and learned a lot this week, and hopefully their experience at the College sparks an interest or plants a seed that leads them to think about the skilled trades as part of their future plans for education,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College.
More information about the College’s Women in Trades Training Initiative is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/wtti.
Aaron Spohr never could have predicted that a quick glance at a sign while driving past Okanagan College would open his eyes to a new career and change the way he looked at the world. An upcoming info session at the Penticton campus is inviting others to follow in his footsteps and join the next wave of sustainable construction managers.
Okanagan College’s Sustainable Construction Management Technology (SCMT) program is a hosting an information session on Wednesday, July 4 from 6 – 7 p.m. The location is a fitting one – visitors will have a chance to tour the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence, which in 2016 was named the greenest post-secondary building in Canada by Corporate Knights magazine.
Attendees will have a chance to meet instructors and learn about the College’s two-year SCMT diploma program which gives graduates the technical knowledge, business savvy, and practical skills required to effectively manage construction projects of varying size and complexity.
The diploma program (initially a three-year pilot) launched in 2014. The first cohort graduated last spring. Since then, Dr. Amy Vaillancourt, Chair of the SCMT program, says the success stories she has heard back from SCMT alumni have been nothing short of inspiring.
“Our grads have stepped into all kinds of opportunities in management and technologist roles,” notes Vaillancourt. “It’s definitely not a cookie-cutter career. It’s for anyone who is interested in blending sustainability, technology and construction. Quite a number of our grads have found it a springboard to management or supervisory roles, and some have started their own successful businesses.”
Aaron Spohr is one of those grads who has used the program to grow his career locally.
Originally from Kamloops, Spohr was driving through Penticton a few years ago when he spotted a signboard outside the College advertising for a new program focused on sustainable construction.
“I had a little construction experience and a bit of an interest in sustainability, so when I got home and thought about it further, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to marry those two interests.
Spohr enrolled in the program and moved with his family to Penticton. While still a student, he was hired on as a Project Coordinator for Ritchie Custom Homes. He graduated last summer and is now a Project Manager.
“I want to be on the right side of history,” he says. “The time is now for us to look at how we can build in a more sustainable way. More and more people in the industry are getting onboard, so we definitely need people with the skills and knowledge to make it happen.”
“It’s very gratifying to get to go to work every day and know you’re part of building a home that can have the least impact on the environment while being a beautiful, functional custom home for someone.”
Spohr says the program transformed his outlook beyond the jobsite as well.
“For us, it changed the way we go to the grocery store. The choices we make – like bringing along re-usable bags for produce. It really helped clarify and change some lifestyle choices. It gave me a practical application for a sentiment I was feeling and led to a career that matters – one that I take a lot of pride in.”
Attendees of the info session will also have a chance to hear about a new offering launching this fall – the Post-Diploma Sustainability Studies Certificate.
“Like the diploma, the certificate is designed to meet the industry demand for managers and technologists who are specialized in sustainable construction,” explains Vaillancourt. “It will appeal to professionals with a diploma in engineering, architecture, or construction management who are looking to further their training.”
The new certificate will take two years to complete and will be delivered through a combination of online delivery and a short but intensive residency during each of the four terms.
More information is available at okanagan.bc.ca/scmt.
What if someone hacked a traffic sign with a few well-placed dots, so your self-driving car did something dangerous, such as going straight when it should have turned right?
Don’t think it’s unlikely – it’s already happened – and an Okanagan College professor and his colleagues from France are among those saying that researchers have to invest more effort in system design and security to deal with hacks and security issues.
A research paper, co-authored by Okanagan College Computer Science Professor Dr. Youry Khmelevsky, and presented recently at an international conference held by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (the world’s largest technical professional society), summarizes the research that has already been done into the threats and dangers associated with the machine-learning processes that underpin autonomous systems, such as self-driving cars.
Their paper also points to the needs to take research and tool development for “deep learning” to a new level. (Deep Learning – DL - is what makes facial recognition, voice recognition, and self-driving cars possible. Deep Learning systems mimic neural networks – like your brain – that can take data and process it based on information processing and communication patterns. For a good description of how artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning connect to each other and the role they play in our daily lives, click here.)
The paper was authored by Dr. Gaétan Hains, Arvid Jakobsson (of Huawei Parallel and Distributed Algorithms Lab at the Huawei Paris Research Centre) and Khmelevsky. “Safety of DL systems is a serious requirement for real-life systems and the research community is addressing this need with mathematically-sound but low-level methods of high computational complexity,” notes the trio’s paper. They point to the need for significant work yet to be done on security, software, and verification to ensure that systems relying on deep learning are as safe as they could be.
“It sounds very abstract,” says Khmelelvsky, “but it isn’t. It’s here today whether it’s in your car or a device that recognizes your voice and commands.”
"Deep Learning-based artificial intelligence has had immense success in applications like image recognition and is already implemented in consumer products,” notes Jakobsson. “But the power of these techniques comes at an important cost compared to ‘classic algorithms’: it is harder to understand why they work, and harder to verify that they work correctly. Before deploying DL based AI in safety critical domains, we need better tools for understanding and exhaustively exploring the behaviour of these systems, and this paper is a work in this direction."
Do Hains, Jakobsson and Khmelevsky have the answer to prevent hacks that could send your car going straight, when it should go left? Not yet, but they are developing some research proposals that could help ensure that your car, and its systems based on artificial intelligence, don’t get fooled.
“Safe AI is an important research topic attracting more and more attention worldwide,” says Hains. “Dr. Khmelevsky brings software engineering expertise to complement my team's know-how in software correctness techniques. We expect to produce new knowledge and basic techniques to support this new trend in the industry.”
For Linsay Ogden, 2018 has proven to be a very good year indeed. She crossed the stage at Okanagan College’s Summer Commencement ceremony on Wednesday and recently stepped into a rewarding new career in the Okanagan’s booming wine industry.
After working in the hospitality industry for several years, Ogden decided to switch sectors. She set her sights on an administrative role and enrolled in the Introduction to Office Administration Certificate program offered at the College to gain the education she needed.
“It was so easy to learn here,” says Ogden. “The were phenomenal – they even encouraged me to think critically about what I wanted for my long-term career plans.”
While in the program, Ogden decided to apply her newly acquired skills in the wine industry.
“The hospitality industry definitely has some crossover with the wine industry and I’ve always been intrigued by that world,” explains Ogden. “I immediately started looking for ways to use my skills at a local winery and searching for job openings – it wasn’t long before I got one.”
Shortly before graduation, Ogden was hired as estate coordinator for Black Hills Estate Winery.
Ogden is one of about 140 students from an array of Continuing Studies programs who were recognized at Summer Commencement on Wednesday at the Kelowna campus. About 165 more will earn credentials at Summer Convocation taking place tonight at 6 p.m. in the courtyard at the Kelowna campus – the ceremony marks the last of eight convocation and commencement ceremonies Okanagan College will host this year.
“This year Okanagan College will send more than 2,000 graduates out into the world,” notes the College’s President Jim Hamilton. “Among those graduates are our future home builders, educators, health care professionals, entrepreneurs and many, many other vocations – too many to name – that all will be critical to strengthening our economy and enhancing our communities in the region and far beyond. I commend each of our graduates on their achievements.”
The Okanagan College Foundation recently welcomed to its board five new directors who collectively bring diverse experience and community impact across a wide array of sectors from health care and technology to entrepreneurship, human resources and finance.
The new directors joining the Foundation board are:
• Paulo Araujo, Vice President of Retail and Business Banking at Valley First (South Okanagan)
• Sheri Hamilton, Associate Vice President of Human Resources at Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union (Shuswap-Revelstoke)
• Dr. Gerry Karr, a former Penticton doctor and cofounder of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Coalition (South Okanagan)
• Christine Petkau, former Executive Director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Summerland (South Okanagan)
• Brea Retzlaff, Director of Operations at Accelerate Okanagan (Central Okanagan)
“It’s wonderful to welcome committed industry leaders from up and down the valley to our board,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director, Okanagan College Foundation.
“Our new directors join us at an exciting time and will have the opportunity to make a big impact for students. We have a growing student population that continues to need financial aid and we’re embarking on future development that will continue to transform our campuses.”
“The calibre of our new directors reflects the importance of the work carried out by the Foundation,” says Sharron Simpson, Board Chair, Okanagan College Foundation.
“Education is transformative to individuals and our communities, and we’re excited to continue ensuring education is accessible and our infrastructure reflects the quality of the education Okanagan College provides.”
The new board members join current board directors Chris Derickson, Surej Dhillon, Bob Eby, Colin Edstrom, Gladys Fraser, Kimberly White Gilhooly, Jim Hamilton, Rob Phare, Alan Sanderson, Sharron Simpson, and Tom Styffe.
Full biographies of the new board members are below:
Paulo Araujo, Valley First Vice President, Retail and Business Banking
During the last 18 years, Araujo has worked in various roles within the organization, including Director of Retail Banking, Regional Manager South Okanagan Region, Senior Manager of Retail Credit and Branch Manager. In addition to his current role as VP of Retail and Business Banking, Araujo also runs his family’s orchard in the South Okanagan. He is Lean Green Belt Certified and has taken leadership courses through The Banff Centre.
Dedicated to community leadership, Araujo is active in Valley First’s signature cause, Feed the Valley and an avid supporter of the South Okanagan Youth Soccer Association.
Sheri Hamilton, Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union (SASCU) Associate Vice President, Human Resources
Sheri Hamilton is the Associate Vice President Human Resources at SASCU where she oversees a range of areas including talent management, performance management, organizational effectiveness, total rewards and employee relations. Hamilton manages the team responsible for SASCU’s award winning culture and strong employee engagement.
During her time at SASCU, the credit union has placed on the Progressive Employers of Canada List, B.C. Business Magazine’s Best Companies to Work for in B.C., and a WorkLife B.C. Award of Merit.
Dr. Gerry Karr
Karr’s professional education includes a PhD in Pharmacology, MD and FRCPC (Internal Medicine). After 8 years with the Faculty of Medicine at the U of Calgary, Karr recognized his overriding passion for clinical medicine, moving to his present home in Penticton where he practised internal medicine and nephrology until 2003. During this time he established the first renal program in the Okanagan Valley and, along with St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, the program pioneered the development of evidence-based chronic kidney disease clinics in B.C. In 2003, he championed the innovative Integrated Health Center in Penticton, which merged the programs for diabetes, CKD and CHF care in the Okanagan Similkameen region. Karr accepted a role as Medical Director of Kidney Services with Interior Health from 2006 until his retirement in March 2012.
In retirement Karr has pursued his interest in primary prevention and health promotion prompted by many years of first-hand experience treating patients with lifestyle-related chronic disease. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Fair and of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Coalition.
Christine Petkau is from Manitoba and is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg.
Together with her husband and children, Petkau moved to Summerland in 2002. She has worked in the public sector, both in Manitoba and B.C., in the design and delivery of programs focused on entrepreneurship and employment as well as back to work strategies for job seekers. In the private sector she has owned two small businesses with partners and worked as a North American product manager for several companies.
For the past 6 years she was Executive Director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Summerland.
Brea Retzlaff, Accelerate Okanagan Director of Operations
Brea Retzlaff is the Director of Operations at Accelerate Okanagan. She has been supporting the growth of the Okanagan tech community for over five years. She spends her days overseeing day-to-day operations, managing the team, and ensuring strategic goals are being met.
Retzlaff graduated from Okanagan College with a degree in Business, but it was her hands-on experience managing a summer camp that gave her a taste for the startup life. Retzlaff also spent time working with Disney’s Club Penguin, where she was responsible for curriculum development, customer service training and policy documentation.
About the Okanagan College Foundation
Okanagan College Foundation has a mission to advance the power of education by engaging individuals and communities in contributing to Okanagan College. The foundation raises and manages private resources for the development and expansion of educational programs, services, capital projects, and student financial aid through scholarships, bursaries, and grants. To learn more visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/foundation.
Okanagan College Level 2 Apprentice culinary student Erin MacDougall cooked her way to victory and an all-expenses paid trip to Italy at the third annual OC Road to Riccione Cook-off competition today.
The competition saw four OC students design and prepare their own Italian-themed menu. They were tasked with creating a main entrée featuring arctic char and a dessert, all in a little over two hours. Competitors were given the opportunity to see the available ingredients on the common table beforehand but were told to anticipate a surprise ingredient, which turned out to be eggplant, a revelation that came just before they took to their stations in the kitchen.
“I’ve been practicing non-stop for this competition and it’s an amazing feeling to see that my hard-work and training has paid off,” says MacDougall. “I was totally shocked when I found out I’d won.”
MacDougall’s winning dishes consisted of oak crusted arctic char, mushroom risotto, sautéed eggplant, seared asparagus heads, fennel, citrus slaw and golden beets laid onto of a vibrant spread of asparagus coulis. For her dessert, she presented crepes with a lemoncello lemon curd, whipped mascarpone, macerated raspberries and candied hazelnuts.
While cooking and preparing their dishes, competitors were judged on their technical skills, station organization, safety and sanitation by OC Culinary Arts instructors Chef Stuart Klassen and Chef Geoffrey Couper. The final dishes were then judged on presentation, timing, doneness, innovation, textures and portion sizes during a blind tasting by OC’s Chef Jim Armstrong, Sysco’s Chef Brent Durec and former owner and chef of Gray Monk restaurant, Chef Willi Franz.
“We saw some well-thought out and beautifully presented dishes during today’s competition,” says Armstrong. “The competition was very close and we commend each student for their passion, guts, dedication and hard-work. Competitions like these aren’t easy, especially when you’re competing for such a big prize as a free trip to Italy.”
MacDougall will be joined by a winning student from an upcoming competition hosted by the Okanagan Chef’s Association, and OC instructors Chef Jim Armstrong and Chef Mike Barillaro when they travel to Riccione in early October. The trip will see students tour a prosciutto factory, watch culatello and parmesan being made, travel to the city of Modena to learn about traditional balsamic vinegar and to Bologna to experience a one star Michelin restaurant.
“I am so excited to travel to Italy,” says MacDougall. “I’ve never been to Europe and being a young mom with a two-year old, big trips like this aren’t really in the cards for me at this point in time. This is a life-changer for me.”
MacDougall will also have the opportunity to do a bit of cooking while in Riccione. The five chefs will be working together to prepare a traditional Canadian thanksgiving dinner at the renowned award-winning Hotel Belvedere.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip and invaluable for up-and-coming chefs,” explains Chef Barillaro. “Each student put their heart into their plates and showcased a great level of composure, skill and technique in the kitchen today.”
Also competing in the cook-off were Culinary students Kassi Sherman, Leif Donglin Ye and runner-up Hannah Zheng.
The four students prepared meals in front of a crowd of friends and family and a few faces familiar to the College’s Culinary Arts program including former OC Culinary Manager Chef Bernard Casavant and 2016 Culinary Arts alumnus Josh Starrett. Casavant now serves as Director of Operations for RauDZ Creative Concepts Ltd. He oversees the company’s four restaurants including Sunny’s Modern Table where Starrett works and MacDougall is currently completing her co-op term.
“We came to support Erin today,” explains Starrett. “I competed in two of these competitions when I was a student and can tell you first-hand how valuable they were in my skills development. I think the secret to cooking in competitions is to cook happy and to not worry about whether you’re going to win or not, but to find happiness with the plate you put out.”
A class of Grade 4 students at Queen’s Park Elementary in Penticton are some of the region’s newest published authors thanks to a new initiative by Okanagan College’s Enactus team.
Carrie-Ann McAlpine and Christie Reid, both business students at the Penticton campus, recently spent three days in the classroom working with students to write and illustrate their own stories.
“We wanted to develop a fun, hands-on way for the students to think about reading and writing – and something that ultimately could help teachers make literacy more exciting and tangible,” says McAlpine. “Our aim was to transport them into the mindset of an author.”
The theme, fittingly, was transportation. Over the course of three days, students learned about transportation – past and present – and were tasked with working in groups to envision and write about future modes of transport.
And while the College students may have been used to group work, they quickly found out it was a new experience for their elementary school subjects.
“For many of the students, it was their first group project ever, or the first of this scale where they worked together over a few days,” explains McAlpine. “So it turned out to be a great learning experience on the literacy side of things, and it also challenged them to work together, listen to each other, and make decisions as a group.”
Before stepping into the classroom, McAlpine and Reid found a way to make the students feel more like the real-world authors they know and look up to.
“We approached the Kiwanis Club of Penticton which agreed to cover the cost of professionally printing the students’ stories,” explains McApline. “When we brought in the published works, the students eyes lit up. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of, as a student or otherwise.”
Like the students they mentored, McAlpine and Reid have now turned their attention to imaging what the future could look like. They hope to grow the project and be able to replicate the writing and publishing experience for students in more classrooms and schools. They’re also looking into how the students’ published works could be sold to provide schools and community organizations such as Kiwanis with a new fundraising tool.
“This project really embodies what Enactus Okanagan College is all about,” notes Dr. Sheilagh Seaton, a professor with the College’s School of Business and a faculty advisor for Enactus OC.
“Carrie-Ann and Christie took a simple idea and found a way to bring it to life in the community to benefit others and foster new collaborations and opportunities. It’s been wonderful to watch how quickly they realized their vision and the positive impact it has had on students in the pilot project.”
Kalamalka Rotary has stepped forward with a major gift to support amenities for students in the new Trades Centre under construction at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus.
“Kalamalka Rotary is proud to contribute $25,000 from the club’s Annual Dream Auction to support the College’s new Trades Training Centre,” says Club President Neil Perry. “We’re pleased to be able to support a space that will enhance the facilities available at the College, help to grow a skilled workforce in the North Okanagan and meet the increasing demand for skilled trades workers in the area.”
The club’s support will specifically help the College outfit men’s and women’s locker rooms in the $6.2 million, 13,450 square-foot facility, which is slated to open in August.
The gift also marks a significant milestone in the fundraising campaign for the project.
“Kalamalka Rotary’s support brings us over the $915,000 mark and within $85,000 dollars of our goal,” notes Michael Tindall, Chair of the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign. “We’re deeply grateful for all the support we’ve received – it’s come from individuals, it’s come from families, businesses large and small, and with just a couple months left to go before students step into the building, we’re confident the good people of Vernon will help us meet our goal.”
The new building will provide space for approximately 150 students per year to train in more than a half-dozen programs, including Carpentry, Electrical and Welding. It will help the College deliver specialized offerings like Aboriginal Trades Training and Women in Trades Training, as well as contract training to meet the needs of employers in the region.
“Skilled tradespeople play a significant role in the economic prosperity of the North Okanagan, as they do in many communities throughout the region we serve,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Our new Trades Training Centre in Vernon is going to give our students a bright, modern and truly state-of-the-art facility that will match the quality of instruction they have always received at the College. And in so doing, it will help ensure we can continue to train the skilled workers needed to address the skills gap looming or already being felt in many areas across the province and the country.”
“We’re thankful to Kalamalka Rotary and all the donors who are investing in Okanagan College and in our students’ futures for years to come.”
The total cost for the new Trades Centre is $6.2 million. The project is being supported through the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. Through this fund, the province of B.C. is investing $2.9 million and the government of Canada has provided $2.7 million. The Okanagan College Foundation is fundraising for the remainder of the capital cost and to provide program and student support to increase access to training.
More information about the new Trades Training Centre and fundraising campaign is available at okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.
“Deciding to go to the College and enrolling in the welding program just felt right for me and now that I’m at the end of this program I can say it was the right choice,” says Burton. “Welding is such a versatile trade and you can really do so much with it and work in a ton of different venues which makes me very excited for my future because the opportunities are endless.”
For Burton, today’s ceremony marks the completion of his C-Level Welding Foundation Certificate which he hopes will propel him into the industry and open the door to future training.
“Graduating has given me a huge sense of accomplishment and I can’t wait to hit the ground running in this industry and start laying down some roots in the region,” says Burton. “I am excited to see where I’ll end up in this career.”
Burton’s next step will be to accrue the 1,000 hours of industry experience required to earn his Level 1 apprenticeship, after which he plans to return to the College to obtain B-Level Certification.
“Tradespeople play a vital role in building and sustaining our communities and trades training has always been at the heart of what we do at Okanagan College,” says President Jim Hamilton. “We commend all of our 2018 trades graduates on their achievements.”
More than 700 apprentices and foundation trades students will have received credentials since January. About 100 of those students were expected to attend Thursday’s ceremony.
Trades Commencement is one of eight convocation and commencement ceremonies Okanagan College will host this year. By the end of June, the College will have sent more than 2,000 graduates into the world to become nurses, engineering technologists, business leaders, computer programmers, educators, tradespeople and more.
Okanagan College is the second-largest trades training institution in the province behind BCIT.
After a strong showing at the Enactus Canada Regional Competition earlier this spring, 27 Okanagan College business students are heading across the country to once again assert their place among Canada’s best. One of the new projects they’ll be showcasing on the national stage is already having an accelerated impact in local classrooms.
For fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student Jamie Park and her teammates, earning first-place at Regionals in Calgary in the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge for the Accelerate Youth project – one of Enactus OC’s newest initiatives – was a major confidence boost and a milestone in the project’s rapid development over the past year.
Accelerate Youth teaches practical life skills such as budgeting, banking, cooking and more to at-risk youth. Joining Park on the team are fellow business students Jessica Egyed, Jessica Overland and Marshall Kutyn.
The project began to take root when Christine Thygesen, an instructor and counselor at the Westside Learning Center, approached the College for an innovative solution and support to teach life skills to students in alternative schools.
“For students who have experienced difficulties in past academic endeavors, adolescence is often the time when they acknowledge their negative outlook on the future,” explains Thygesen. “My vision was to improve the mindset of these teens by creating a program that would support and accelerate them to their next level of potential through hands-on learning.”
Over a 10-week span made up of 20 sessions, Enactus OC teammates visited the Westside Learning Centre to work with students.
“We started with needs versus wants, something every teenager knows about,” explains Park. “After a few weeks the youth started to open up to us and come to realize the importance of financial and nutritional literacy. Once we had covered the basics, we started looking at credit, insurance and taxes.”
The students were soon buoyed by a partnership with a local non-profit organization, Start Fresh, which allowed them to add some hands-on culinary education for the students. Launched in 2016, Start Fresh serves up education on everything from kitchen skills to life skills in a wide variety of settings.
‘Working with Accelerate Youth has been a fantastic experience for our Chefs here at Start Fresh,” says Sarah Martin, Operations Manager at Start Fresh. “We were able to come in to the project, share our skills and knowledge with the students and have a lot of fun doing it. We’re always grateful to support and work with youth in a meaningful way.”
Accelerate Youth also received a $2,000 grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation for Youth and United Way Gennext, which provided the critical seed capital needed for its launch. So far, 25 youth have benefited from the program and the project partners are already looking at how it can be expanded to other regions and districts in future.
“It’s inspiring to see the collaboration between the Enactus team and the students who have built this incredible community learning environment,” says Enactus OC Faculty Advisor Dr. Kyleen Myrah. “The response from community partners who are offering their specialized expertise and financial support for this program has been outstanding. I am excited to see the future direction of Accelerate Youth.”
Enactus OC will be competing in three competitions at the National Exposition held May 14-16 in Toronto. Alongside Accelerate Youth, the entrepreneurial team will also highlight the Launch-a-Preneur and Start-up Weekend projects. The national team will present on all projects from the year. Alongside Myrah, three other Faculty Advisors – Dean Warner, Terry Kosowick and Scott Overland – will accompany and support the teams.