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Building Far More Than Boats

Apr 27, 2022

Thank you to the amazing community partners who make this meaningful program possible.

Imagine the pride and sense of accomplishment that comes with building a boat in only three days and then launching it in open water to prove that it's sea worthy.  It's huge and that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the positive outcomes that are a result of an amazing program called "Spaces and Relationships".

This vocational program is a partnership between HomeBridge, The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and Mount Saint Vincent University where youth are offered the opportunity to gain valuable life and employment skills. This fall marked the third time young people from the HomeBridge Community spent three days on-site at the museum working with Marine Conservation Assistant, Eamonn Doorly and Dr. Shane Theunnesin and his Child and Youth Care Students from MSVU to build a 12-foor Bevin Skiff.  The opportunity allows the participants to gain experience in construction and building, planning and design, teamwork, and workplace safety; all important employability skills that will help them in their future endeavours.  It also allows the MSVU students to put into practice their learning about building safe spaces and enabling supportive interactions with youth-in-care. It is a shared experience that will have lasting impacts on everyone involved. 

The facilitators said it was great to see the young people grow more confident throughout the three days. At the beginning of the program, they were apprehensive to try new skills such as using a plane, drilling holes or using a hand saw.  By the last day, they were literally jumping in front of the adults to do these tasks saying, "don't worry.  I've got this!".  The pride and excitement was also evident for anyone present when they launched the boats into the harbour on the final day. Passers by couldn't help but stop and watch as the young people cheered and clapped and then took turns rowing the boats around the harbour. 

The Youth Development Initiative (YDI) joined as a new partner this year with financial support that allowed participants to be paid a stipend as an incentive for their time and effort to build the boat therefore modeling actual employment. YDI's support also lead to the expansion of this program.  Four young people moved on to a new, more extensive boat building project.  This program, connected to our on-site school Bridges for Learning, sees the participants spend one afternoon a week to the museum working on a 12-foot Bird Class sailing and rowing dinghy.  This program runs for 5 months during the school year and allows the students to gain further skills and experience, earn a stipend and work towards a Construction Technology credit for school.

Thank you to the amazing community partners who make this meaningful program possible. 

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