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Building More Than a Boat

Nov 2, 2021

We would like to thank everyone involved in this program for making it such a meaningful experience for the young people who took part.

Building More Than a Boat

Building a boat in just three days is a lofty goal, but four young people who live in the HomeBridge Community proved recently that it is very much possible.

A crowd gathered on the Halifax Waterfront on Friday, October 15th as the freshly constructed 12-foot Bevin Skiff was carried to the waters edge and launched it into the ocean. Everyone cheered as the proud builders donned their life jackets and climbed aboard to row around the harbour. This was the culmination of three days of work for the young people along with a boat builder from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and a Child & Youth Care Professor and students from Mount Saint Vincent University. The program, called “Safe Spaces and Relationships”, is a vocational training program that offered participants an opportunity to gain valuable employment skills. This partnership between HomeBridge, MSVU and the museum has now successfully run the program three times with excellent results. 

The exciting opportunity allowed 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 allowed the MSVU students to put into practice their learning about building safe spaces and enabling supportive interactions with youth-in-care. It was a shared experience that will have lasting impacts on everyone involved. The youth participated in an orientation of the program facilitated by Dr. Shane Theunnesin, MSVU Professor and Eamonn Doorly, Marine Conservation Assistant. The students were provided with an overview of the program, and what the expectations are for the participants. The orientation for the youth included the topics: commitment, work ethic and teamwork. This set the stage for the hands-on part of the program that took place in the boat shop at the museum.

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 Youth Development Initiative 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 while modeling actual employment and being paid for work. The young people also received a certificate, signed by the facilitators, acknowledging their participation in the program. The money and certificate they earned were greatly appreciated, however, their excitement when rowing the boat around the harbour proved that pride in what they accomplished may have been their best reward. On the first day the facilitators talked with everyone about taking the boat out on the water once it was finished, and a few were reluctant to say the least. By the time the boat was finished, however, all of the youth enthusiastically rowed around the harbour, and even took some of the adults out for rides. Every time they would return to the dock, they would ask who wants to go next and head out again. One young person said, "if it was just some random boat, I wouldn't trust it, but I know we built this one right". 

We would like to thank everyone involved in this program for making it such a meaningful experience for the young people who took part. We are now working with our partners on possibly expanding this program to include more vocational work at the museum to keep the learning and growth going for the young people who take part. 

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