Thursday, 05 July 2018 05:58

Grant helps SaskAbilities continue Youth Employment Program

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South Saskatchewan Community Foundation (SSCF) presented a cheque of $7,920.13 to the SaskAbilities Youth Employment Program in Swift Current, June 26. From left to right, SaskAbilities Program Manager Jayda Watson, SaskAbilities Program Senior Supervisor Kimberly Furey, program participant David Philip, SSCF Acting Executive Director Karen Henders, and Youth Employment Program Facilitator Erin Hilts. South Saskatchewan Community Foundation (SSCF) presented a cheque of $7,920.13 to the SaskAbilities Youth Employment Program in Swift Current, June 26. From left to right, SaskAbilities Program Manager Jayda Watson, SaskAbilities Program Senior Supervisor Kimberly Furey, program participant David Philip, SSCF Acting Executive Director Karen Henders, and Youth Employment Program Facilitator Erin Hilts.

A grant from the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation (SSCF) will assist the SaskAbilities Swift Current branch to continue to operate a youth employment program that provides support for young people who experience barriers to employment.


The cheque presentation took place at the SaskAbilities office in Swift Current, June 26. The $7,920.13 grant is from the SSCF Smart and Caring Fund.
“We are a community foundation that’s focused on supporting the well-being and the sense of belonging in the southern part of our province,” SSCF Acting Executive Director Karen Henders said. “We’re able to do that through the generosity of donors who endow funds with us that we then invest and the income is used to grant to charities.”
The SSCF was able to provide this grant to SaskAbilities after the Regina Airport Authority donated the proceeds of their 2017 charity golf tournament to the SSCF Smart and Caring Fund.
“We’re normally only able to support one community grant deadline a year, but because of their generosity we ran a March deadline,” she explained. “That March deadline was focused on supporting the good work of charities outside of Regina and the emphasis was guided by the work we do with our Vital Signs research. So we were looking to support in the broad themes of reconciliation, welcoming newcomers, and economic inclusion.”
The grant committee considered the application from the SaskAbilities Swift Current branch to be very relevant, because youth employment is a critical factor to reduce barriers to economic inclusion.
Henders noted that people's sense of belonging is vital to the health and well-being of a community, and economic inclusion is essential to give individuals that sense of being part of their community.
“For folks not to have to worry continually about their ability to put food on the table, to have a roof over their heads, not to have to struggle to find employment, can make all the difference,” she said. “When that is your focus, it’s really hard to understand that others can care about you, that you belong with the larger community, and you feel alone and isolated.”
According to SaskAbilities Program Senior Supervisor Kimberly Fury the SSCF grant will help to fill a funding gap that will make it possible to continue the Youth Employment Program.
“We had funding that needed to be changed as the years went by from first year funding and then second year funding was reduced,” she mentioned. “So in order for us to continue with the success of the program we needed to have those funding dollars to continue serving the youth of our community.”
The Youth Employment Program was started in Swift Current in April 2017. It is focused on youth between the ages of 15-30. Program participants learn pre-employment skills such as writing a resume and cover letter, doing a job interview, and interpersonal communication skills. They receive job coaching and employment counselling, and they tour different businesses to explore their areas of interest and to connect with employers.
“We usually have about 30 youth on our case load at a time in various stages of that career development, so whether that’s first doing some self-exploration or actually having employment and just maybe doing a weekly or monthly check-in to make sure they’re still having success in their career choices,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of people go from having no confidence in themselves to now working in jobs where they are making full-time wages. So that’s life changing for someone.”
The program helps youth to gain confidence, which is often their main challenge when they are looking for employment.
“Unfortunately some people have had bad experiences in the past,” she said. “So they haven’t been able to be successful in employment.”
The program makes a difference in the community to break down barriers and to increase awareness among employers that people experiencing disability are employable, they have skills and talents, and they can contribute to society.
“People have different skills and abilities and it’s a matter of matching them up with the proper position that they can be successful in,” she noted.
Over 22 employers have already participated in the program and Furey feels the response from the community has been fabulous.
“They are growing and changing and learning with us every day,” she said. “Swift Current has really embraced our program and our initiatives and really is moving forward with us. So I can’t say enough good things about Swift Current in helping us to open up doors for people experiencing disability.”
For more information about the Youth Employment Program, contact Erin Hilts at 306-741-1683 or send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Matthew Liebenberg

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