By Kim Hutchison
We often hear the saying that the youth of today are the future of tomorrow. If this is the case, Hobemma has a lot to look forward to.
On Dec. 19 Jimmy Bruno, Ron Lightening, Danielle Buffalo, Cody Lightening, Steven Boysis, Melissa Simon, Jake Saddleback, Rhiannon Soosay, Ashlee Buffalo and Chlesea Swampy, all residents of Hobbema aged 18-24, received their certificates of completion after finishing the Power of Choice Youth Training Program – an intense 12 week program that focuses on personal development by building skills for empowerment such as self-esteem an independence ultimately enabling one to be the best he or she can be.
After opening remarks, an opening prayer courtesy of councilor Bob South and a delicious dinner, a slideshow of pictures highlighting what the grads did was shown. The group visited the highly educational Body Worlds exhibit, learned about nutrition and exercise and trained for a 5km run that everyone completed within 31-46 minutes, spent a day at Camp YoWoChAs on the high and low ropes intended to help everyone overcome fears, and raised $900 by having a bottle drive, bake sale, a silent auction, coughing up $1 if late for class – facilitators included- and hand-making and selling Christmas cards, but that’s not all. The money they raised went entirely to toys for the six month to six year olds of the Samson Daycare to enjoy. They also visited the Alberta Museum’s amazing Aboriginal Centre where they recited mission statements (inspirational and motivational statements they made half way through the program) and were videotaped doing it.
At the completion of the slideshow students were called to the front of the room where they gave speeches reflecting on how the program changed their lives and Jimmy Bruno was first. “We learned interviewing, communication and problem solving techniques and built self-confidence that strengthened the mind, body and spirit. We were pushed out of our comfort zone, but it was all worth it,” he told the crowd on onlookers. He plans to graduate from school and will strive to be the best he can be because of this program.
Ron Lightening learned that careers should be something your passionate about, not just a job and expressed how thankful he was for the opportunity to develop friendships that will last a lifetime. Cody Lightening learned that the future is so much more than he thought it ever could be and Melissa Simon faced and overcame fears she didn’t think she was capable of facing or overcoming. Jake Saddleback and Rhiannon Soosay both know not to listen to people who tell you your “not” or “can’t be” and feel they can put their minds to anything they want while the artistic Ashley Buffalo found her true colors, and the stylish Chelsea Swampy learned how to be an honest, loyal, reliable person to herself. Danielle Buffalo wants to go back to school become a practical nurse and Stephen Boysis wants to become a heavy equipment operator or a helicopter pilot, proving that the sky is the limit for these grads.
Facilitator Shauna Simpson owns the company and wrote the program. She has a background in addiction services and career counseling and over the pat seven years, has constantly been improving what has not worked and bettering what has. She truly loves what she does and this was evident by her energy and enthusiasm that lit up the room, and by listening to the kind words students had to say to her in their speeches.
“When I was 19, I found a program similar to this and it got me wanting more. Ever since then I knew this is what I wanted to do” she said. Andrea Jenkins, Travis Dugas and Simpson are the main facilitators but as Simpson pointed out, it takes more than just three people to make a program like this possible. Samson Human Development Resources make next Power of Choice Program possible, and the next one will take place in April.
Congratulations to everyone who took part.