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‘Youth at Risk’ students start six-week placement

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After six weeks of training, 15 young adults aged 19-29 are now working at jobs they never dreamed of after beginning their six-week placements through the Fort Frances and District Association for Community Living’s “Youth at Risk” program.

“They’ve worked really hard over these past weeks,” said project co-ordinator Allene Perusse, adding she thinks the trainees are ready for the working world.

Since January, those enrolled in the program have been learning skills needed to make them good employees--and improve their chances of landing long-term jobs.

“They really took to learning the material because they know how important it is” noted Perusse. “And now, when they enter the workplace, they should know that they belong there and they have something to offer that business.”

Rosanne Zimmerman, the program’s other co-ordinator, said the businesses also are enthusiastic about the interns.

“The businesses have been very supportive in offering placements,” she remarked. “They know these young people are trained, and that they’re not just there to stock shelves.”

Job placements were offered at Nova Body Works, Factory Outlet, NorFab Building Components, Pharmasave, The Mighty Dollar Store, Fort Frances Children’s Complex, Canadian Tire, SAAN Store, A&W Restaurant, Northern Do-It Center, Weechi-it-te-win Family Services, and R.D. Koeneman Lumber.

The interns will be paid by Human Resources and Development Canada for the six weeks. And if an employer should choose to keep any of them on, a government subsidy will be offered.

Rhoda Archie, who will do her six-week placement at Weechi-it-te-win Family Services, couldn’t praise the program enough.

“I found it very educational and fun--it made me a better person,” she enthused. “I’m interested in office work but the best part of the training was the interview preparation.”

“Right now, it will be the first aid because I’ve starting working in the [R.D. Koeneman Lumber] sawmill,” Pam Teeple, 19, replied when asked what part of her training would be the most useful for her placement.

Teeple, who started there last Monday, noted the job was “going really well” so far.

Jason Bragg, 18, also said first aid, as well as the WHMIS training, would be useful on the job. He started working this week at Pharmasave.

“The training overall was very helpful,” he remarked.

Even though the training portion of the program is complete, Perusse and Zimmerman’s jobs are far from over.

“Every week we’ll be in contact with employers to see how the placements are doing,” noted Zimmerman. “We also gave performance evaluations to the employers to fill out.”

Perusse said they even plan to drop by the various businesses to see how their “pupils” have adapted.

“From what we’ve heard so far, this is the part of the program we really have to be there for,” she stressed. “Some other programs have shown job placements without follow-ups haven’t had good results.”

Depending on feedback and results after the six-week placements, it’s possible the program could take flight again down the road--a hope Zimmerman and Perusse hold for both others and themselves.

“Seeing others catching onto something that will really make their life ‘go’ [is] what’s rewarding about it,” enthused Perusse.

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