Written by Selwynne Hawkins
With five weeks remaining, the current SAGE cohort has now passed the halfway mark. And, since we last checked in, they have covered a lot of new ground.
The group spent a week on conflict resolution—where they focused on ways to communicate their opinions and needs clearly. This module included mock debates, role playing, and group problem-solving activities.
In their self-esteem week, participants created vision boards and reflected on the things they like most about themselves. They also spent time discussing their skills for employment, and visited Bow Valley College, where they were invited to attend an Elder panel on Good Medicine.
Three current participants—Jamie, Adrienne, Andrea—graciously agreed to share their experiences in the SAGE program.
“I’ve taken a few of these ‘job seeker’ programs, and I really think this one is a lot of help,” Andrea said.
“Especially with all of the activities we do,” Adrienne agreed. “Like what Stacey makes us do.”
Stacey, a local indigenous actress, leads four sessions with the SAGE participants throughout the program. With Stacey, the participants learn and gain confidence through experiential learning. During self-esteem week, she led role playing activities, which were a big hit with participants.
“Those are fun, too,” Andrea said. “Really makes us step out of our comfort zone.”
The SAGE program offers a balance of functional life skills, strategies to express emotions, within an Indigenous worldview including ceremony and cultural activities and processes. SAGE prepares women with the necessary skills that will not only assist them in their personal life, but within the context of successful employment experience. Through the wide-ranging activities, participants gain further confidence and strategies for developing their emotional well-being. So far, they have learned and improved their lives throughout their active participation in the program.
“Communications skills, problem solving,” Jamie recounted. “Resume writing.”
“It’s been a good review for a lot of stuff,” Andrea said. “I get really nervous for interviews, so we get a lot of practice. But what I like the most is the Indigenous part. Going to the sweat, the library for creation lodge…”
“Yeah,” Adrienne added. “And we’ve met so many Elders, too.”
In the coming weeks, they will spend time discussing healthy relationships and visit the YW Employment Resource Centre. They’ll also spend a week on professionalism, complete a cover letter workshop, and practice in mock interviews.
Near the end of the program, SAGE participants will spend a week at the Women in Need Society (WINS). Through a week of volunteering at the donation sorting centre, they’ll gain experience and learn about accountability. In their final week, they’ll focus on “next steps” for participants—making sure they’re ready for school, employment, or whatever goals they are focused upon. .
Though the program is only halfway completed participants have already grown more positive and self-assured.
“It’s built up my self-confidence a bit more, the exercises we’ve had to do,” Andrea said. “I really like it.”
“I used to be really shy before, and didn’t talk,” Jamie laughed. “Now I’m talking!”
Follow along on our blog and social media accounts for more updates on the group as they wrap up the 12-week program.