SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - A woman who felt safe at home and struggled with the idea of stepping up and standing out.
A young man who struggled through addictions and wondered how to rebuild his life.
Another woman, on long-term disability and who thought that was all she would ever know.
A man was so moved by a day spent as a volunteer that he picked up a stone that day and carries it in his pocket, for hope.
There are a few samples of the personal stories shared Thursday, during a small graduation ceremony help by the Prosper West program of the East Prince Youth Development Centre.
Prosper West started five weeks ago with 11 people in the program. Its focus is to teach life skills to help participants overcome whatever personal challenges they are facing, hone their job seeking skills and expose them directly to industries seeking employees.
A few days from now, 21-year-old Nolan Peters will start a new job in the produce department of Atlantic Superstore in Summerside.
It’s a big step for him as he’s struggled to overcome some challenges in his young life.
He’s been getting by most recently with some help from social assistance, but he felt he was ready and able to do more. He feels Prosper West helped him do that.
“I was having a hard time getting back into the workforce, getting motivated. When you don’t work for so long it’s hard to find that drive to get back into it, you feel very limited,’ said Peters.
“They helped push us outside our comfort zones in a way that is helpful,” he said, of the program.
Joyce Newcombe is the program coordinator for East Prince Youth Development Centre.
This was the first year for the Prosper West program, she said, and she is highly impressed with the results. All of the students are graduating either with employment lined up or good prospects on the near horizon.
“This is the best program ever,” she said.
“I’ve worked with government for 31 years in the social assistance programs on the other side (of the system). This is like… I can’t believe I have this opportunity to actually make a difference – and it is making a difference.”
It is unclear at this point whether funding for Prosper West will be continued. Those discussions are ongoing now.
But anyone who thinks they might be interested, should the program be brought back, are encouraged to contact East Prince Youth Development Centre to have a discussion.