Program Prepares Youth for Career in Recreation

Published May 31, 2021 20:16


In hindsight, Kristen Hotomani didn’t have access to proper resources and role models as a kid. She was left yearning for something "better."

"I wish(ed) I had the resources and the people that would help me, growing up," Hotomani, 29, told The Times.

Kristen Hotomani graduated from the Youth Recreation Activity Worker Program on May 27.
This is why she enrolled in the Youth Recreation Activity Worker program, from which she and 12 other youth graduated on May 27.

The program is a joint venture between the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg and Red River College. The nine-month program trains young adults facing barriers to obtaining their post-secondary education to be leaders in the recreation field.

Students cover psychology, Indigenous studies, health and safety training, and non-violent crisis intervention, among other topics. They can even get their Class 4 and 5 driver’s licences. Students are also required to complete a practicum or work experience of 300 hours.

After they complete the program, some students move on to pursue additional education, or they enter the work field.

Hotomani hopes that she can provide support to youth who are in the shoes that were once on her own feet. "What I’ve learned is how to be a trustworthy person (and) how to work with youth and children."

She said she previously worked in a group home and will soon be starting a job with Child and Family Services.

The Youth Recreation Activity Worker program is subsidized by the Province of Manitoba, the City of Winnipeg, and the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development. Therefore, tuition and books are free. Participants also receive $300 biweekly as an incentive and to off-set the potential loss of income during the full-time program.

Ibukun Olawole graduated from the Youth Recreation Activity Worker program on May 27.
Randy Wagner is the director of employment services at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg. He said the program began 19 years ago out of a need for trained recreation leaders at the clubs which are located primarily in the inner city. The former BGC executive director believed there was a need to combine education with lived experience, Wagner explained.

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