Our Step-up program is designed for street-engaged youth. Its purpose is to teach them soft skills to prepare them for the workplace. Although is sounds simple (soft skills), many of the applicants in the program have had no “normal” life and don’t know a home or parents who could be their example or teach them the ways of life.
Each applicant has a different starting point ranging from severe anxiety, no self-esteem, mental illness, disabilities and so on. Most of the applicants have multiple issues. Their past or current situations can also present as being very chaotic. Together with their anxiety and past pains and rejections, it makes it hard for others to understand their challenges, because they view even a small challenge as something not overcomeable.
Together with our Youth Program Coordinator, we are trying to help each applicant not only overcome those battles (each at time, and at his/her own pace), but also to become a valuable employee and successful in life down the road. The challenge when working with them is to discover the best encouragement method for every applicant, to make them grow in self-esteem and overcome their anxiety. It is a real joy when this happens. Some may take longer than others, but the end goal is that each one of them will be strong men or women in our society who can take care of themselves.
We do see these successes and celebrate them!
~Ellen Niekoop, OIM (and Step-up) Administrator