Youth Eco Internships
My internship at the QAPSD (Québec Association of Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities)
Lucette Manuella Koffi
My internship at the QAPSD (Québec Association of Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities) started on October 4th 2010. This internship was subsidised by the Youth Eco Internship Program of the YWCA, which aims at placing unemployed youth aged 15 to 30 into paid internship opportunities within the non-profit and community services sector in Canada with a focus on the environment and community services.
During my internship, I took part in the writing of a guide for students with disabilities entitled Post-Secondary Studies: They Are For You Too! I worked under the supervision of Yolanda Muñoz, coordinator, during 3 months as research officer. My research covered the different topics addressed in the guide, such as Financial assistance from the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport du Québec, accessible public and private transportation in the region, accessible housing as well as any relevant information that could support and serve as a reference to post-secondary students with disabilities.
This guide will be very helpful as it offers all the necessary information on the resources available and how to use them is a responsible way in order to succeed in your studies. I really hope that this guide will contribute to help students with disabilities, especially women, to overcome the barriers they face and to be aware that post-secondary studies are here for all of them.
I have also helped with the final revision of the document entitled Nous avons des droits, which is a translation of a manual developed by the Harvard Project on Disability (HPOD) to help people with disabilities know their rights and claim them. I hope that this manual, which will soon be available online on the HPOD website, will help French speaking people with disabilities build a fair society wherever they are in the world.
My experience at the QAPSD was very rewarding. It increased my awareness in terms of the fight for equal opportunities at the post-secondary level and for a more autonomous life for people with disabilities. It is very common that people with disabilities are infantilized and do not benefit from enough resources in order to be more autonomous. I also learnt more about the various challenges they face in their studies and in their daily life. I also understood that we cannot talk about environment without addressing universal accessibility, an integral part of sustainable development. My internship changed my vision of disability and transformed me as a person. It was so inspiring to see all this dedication, all these courageous persons who defend endlessly their right for a more accessible community. This motivated me to give more and to make a little contribution to this cause. I will always remember two things from my internship: the public transportation ride with my coordinator and the participation in a rallying led by the RAPLIQ (Regroupement d’activistes pour l’inclusion au Québec) for a more accessible subway. These two events enabled me to become aware of the issue of accessibility and to understand how citizens can change things to make our society more accessible.
I can’t wait to see the bilingual version of my work posted online!
“The problem is not to know how to eliminate the differences, but to be able to live together with all our differences”.
Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali poet and musician
Community Social Planning Council, Community Micro Lending Society - Victoria. B.C.
I have always wanted to pursue a career in community and international development. After doing a Masters in Globalization and Development I had a sound understanding of the theoretical issues, but other than a three month internship in Uganda, I had little experience in the practical application of those issues. I moved to Victoria just over two years ago and funding cuts in both the non-profit and government sectors meant that after 18 months, I was unable to find a job in community development. I come across the Youth Eco Internship Program through one of their job postings and soon after I applied, I was accepted for an internship. Once I had found an organization that was willing to host me, my internship was confirmed within a matter of days.
Since March, I've been working with the Community Micro Lending Society and hosted by the Community Social Planning Council. It has been an invaluable experience. I have not only learnt a tremendous amount about community development in the Greater Victoria Area, but I have also been introduced to the 'network' of people involved in community development in Victoria. The internship has not only provided me with the opportunity to gain the practical experience that I need, but it has also given me the opportunity to expand my professional network. Furthermore, the funding provided by the YWCA for my internship has been crucial to getting this young non-profit organization established. The Community Micro Lending Society is now in a position provide me with a job and I look forward to continuing my work with them in the year. None of this would have been possible without the help of Theresa and everyone involved in the Youth Eco Internship Program at the YWCA. Thank you!
Community – Education – Change: The Kingston Sustainability Centre
There has been immense growth at the Kingston Sustainability Centre (KSC) since it opened its doors in July 2009. What began as an empty retail space has quickly developed into a thriving hub of local sustainability solutions and opportunities for participation. KSC is a youth-led, community education centre where Kingstonians can learn, teach and ask about solutions, processes and actions that inspire them to join the journey to achieve the city’s vision of becoming “Canada’s Most Sustainable City.” With a mission to educate and encourage the community to embrace and apply sustainable consciousness in the various aspects of life, the Centre operates using a two-fold model: promoting sustainable solutions and offering a community classroom with education outreach.
In the summer of 2009 I walked into a nearly empty, former retail setting that had an idea. The concept was community learning space with a focus on a more sustainable Kingston. I was hooked. I asked for a job on the spot but was told that the would-be Kingston Sustainability Centre was a start up and there was no extra money for staff. I walked away.
A couple weeks later, after talking to Jenny Struyk from the YWCA’s Youth Eco Internship Program I walked back in and asked if there was room for an intern who was being paid by someone else. I was hired on the spot.
It was then the learning started. Starting from scratch is difficult, but was made easier with support from the YWCA.
During my time at the KSC: 20 paying summer student jobs were created; 4 local youth (post secondary grads) were offered internships; we cultivated 57 partners and sponsors; hosted 12,750+ visitors; held 14 off-site and 15 specific events, using 1,100 youth volunteer hours; hosted 3 class projects and 41 community classrooms; took 2,600 written pledges for change; and enjoyed 1,000 glowing guest book comments.
After my internship finished I was hired by the Limestone District School Board part time to organize and execute the education phase of a local project called the Harvesting House. This is “Y” I will always will remember the Youth Eco Internship Program. It gave me a chance and I capitalized!
YWCA Y’s Buys - Peterborough, Ontario
Hi, I’m Valerie West, manager of the YWCA Y’s Buys in Peterborough, Ontario, which is a second-hand clothing store and sales from donations help fund some of our programs including our women’s shelter Crossroads.
From an environmental standpoint, we are a means of diverting useable but unwanted items from landfill. All items suitable for selling are sorted, priced and put out for sale. Goods that are damaged, soiled or too old are recycled through a partnership with St. Vincent du Paul’s store. They can ship goods through their contacts to developing countries which are in great need. We put out many items for free that people in Peterborough can just take. Very little is put in the garbage with the exception of broken glass and crockery, which is not recyclable in Peterborough.
The YWCA is striving to include young women as part of our organization and the YEIP was a perfect fit. As soon as I met Melissa Luxton, I knew she would be a perfect fit. She is outgoing and easily interacts with all of our customers, other volunteers and the staff. She was willing to learn anything from a retail budgets to how to develop a sales plan, the use of spread sheets and the value of raw sales data, Melissa was taught our system for sorting, pricing and displaying merchandise, as well as written and verbal communication skills. Melissa also created in-store displays. She updated our Facebook page with pictures, stories and newspaper public articles, as well as participated in YWCA training sessions, gaining skills that will be of use to her in her future endeavors.
For the last nine months, Y’s Buys has had the benefit of Melissa’s help and teaching Melissa has allowed me to review and sharpen my own business skills. She has shared her enthusiasm and energy with us, brining a youthful perspective to our store “family”.
YEIP has been a great success for Melissa, giving her the confidence, tools and attitude to make something of herself. I thank the YEIP as well for the opportunity to make a difference.
Ekaterina Adaikin is a 22 year old woman, living with Cerebral Palsy. She walks with the aid of a walker, uses Access Calgary as her main mode of transportation, and faces many barriers, but always stays positive. Here is her story:
YEIP is my first paid job! I have been working at the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, where I am responsible for maintaining computer files and dealing with communications like letters and brochures which are sent to our audience. The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra has a lot of different music programs for adults and kids of all ages. I always wanted to work at a place like CPO in a position like the one I hold now. Thank you for helping me a job I really like with such nice people.
What I like about this program is that it helped me get the paid job that I always wanted; I have been looking for a position for a very long time. In addition, I have learned many skills that will help me in the future including what it’s like to work with different people and how to get help when I need it. Specifically, I learned how to use Microsoft Excel, organize mailings and create files for clients.
This program also helped me by teaching me how to send out my resume out to different places and asking people if they have any positions available for me. It also taught me that if people don't call me or send me an e-mail I should phone them back and ask them if they have a position available for me.
In the future I want to continue working at the CPO because I like it here and the people are very nice and helpful.
Thank you very much for this excellent opportunity!