September is always the busiest time of year for the Liaison staff at Skills Canada – Ontario. About two weeks after school starts, the floodgates open, and requests for in-school presentations come pouring in. Add a busy season of Networking Dinners for Women, and fall zooms by as quickly as the lines painted on the 401!
I’m now entering my fifth year delivering presentations about careers in the trades and technologies to students in Grades 7 to 12. I love it. The presentation changes only on an annual basis, but the kids are always different. The schools are always different. And like anyone in my position would have done, I’ve acquired favourites.
I visited one of these favourite schools last week – the Oasis Skateboard Factory. The program is part of the Toronto District School Board’s Oasis Alternative Secondary School and housed at the Scadding Court Community Centre at Bathurst and Dundas in Toronto. Designed for TDSB students who are 16 and over and classified as “at risk,” the program finds students designing, creating and marketing their own skateboard.
The designs are original student creations, from the paper sketch all the way to the painted wood product. In past, students have even obtained partnerships with community businesses to help fund their projects. By the end of the program, students are ready to market and sell their skateboards to the community. Aside from the life skills obtained, the students earn high school credits in arts/media, business and English.
You can define these kids as “at risk” in as many ways as you like, but one glance in that classroom and you see the talent, intelligence, artistry and entrepreneurial spirit. They’ve regained a passion for life and learning, they love what they are doing and they realize very quickly how passion translates into a good living.
In short, they’re the perfect audience for a presentation about careers in trades and technologies. They were fascinated and engaged. I spent over an hour with them on a 45-minute presentation. Give them a few years, and these kids will be laughing all the way to the bank.
Lead Liaison Officer
Social Media Coordinator
Information on the Oasis Skateboard Factory: http://oasisskateboardfactory.blogspot.com/