IN MY OWN BACKYARD
It All Starts with a Pair of Boots
On a dreary Friday morning, the youth at the Village gathered in the backyard and spent the day working together to turn several fallen trees into an impressive wall of firewood.
Ravi, from the Youth Leadership Society of BC in Coquitlam, has made multiple donations to our community and a recent donation this winter included 13 pairs of steel-toed work boots, work gloves, socks, and raingear. For our youth at the village, professional work gear such as this can be hard to acquire, and this was an amazing opportunity to teach lessons – such as properly caring for your boots will help them last a lifetime.
With this gear in mind, Sheena, SOS Children’s Village BC’s Youth Program Manager, realized that there was an opportunity to bring the teens and youth together to help remove several large fallen trees. They live in a family-based care model called the Village which is located on a 2.5-acre plot. Earlier this year we had to remove several nearly dead trees in the backyard and an arborist came to safely cut them down. Some of the fallen trees were used to line a pathway through the wooded area of the backyard, however many ended up lying there for months afterward.
So, Sheena went door to door to all the houses and Year Intensive Housing suites and proposed a plan. Inspired by a recent lack of available firewood, Sheena proposed to the youth that if they were interested in cutting up and splitting the fallen trees, they could sell the bundles and keep the funds.
Growth and Leadership
What started as a fun way to make some extra money, turned into an incredible way to teach an employment and life skills workshop. Indeed, skills such as these are difficult to acquire during a pandemic. There was an expectation that if they committed to this project, that they would show up and treat it like a job. The Friday morning arrived and it was amazing that every single youth that had agreed to the proposal showed up ready to go at 9 am without any prompting. The group went over safety precautions, cleaning and caring for equipment, what they needed to do, and how they needed to communicate with each other.
And throughout the day, the youth really stepped up.
They treated this day just like they would a real job. And some of them had no work experience before this. They were in total control of the project and impressed the caregivers and staff with their careful communication, safety precautions, and perseverance. The youth were working together with the wood splitter, and it was so loud that they couldn’t even hear each other, but they had established such an efficient form of communication that everybody was at ease. The teens worked for hours, through pouring rain and snow, and nothing was slowing them down. After the day, Sheena described how wonderful it was to see the “joy, excitement, and strength of the youth in the Village.”
This day was truly an example of everyone in the Village community coming together to care for their home. The adults at the Village secured a splitter to help process the logs, the caregivers took the long trees and prepared them into smaller, workable pieces, and the youth then processed all those pieces and put them through the splitter. The activities brought that Village to life after an isolating year of COVID-19.
We saw impressive care, initiative, and leadership from the teens, and it had a ripple effect on the younger children in the Village as well. For example, our staff was amazed to see one of the girls demonstrate leadership that day, something they had not seen from her before. Through tough years like this one, it’s inspiring to see the commitment that the families have to sustain the Village community and how the youth are taking care of their homes.
By Maiya Chan, Communications and Development Assistant
Edited by William Brennan