Saskatoon – Putting at-risk youth to work assisting people who need a little bit of help around their homes is a win-win for the community.
“Action to Employment” is a project providing seasonal lawn care services to seniors and other individuals in Saskatoon that need some extra assistance. There are 8 youth in the program who are supervised by EGADZ staff. Through the program training and real–life experience, these young people gain employment, safety, life, social and leadership skills, while the community members gain reliable, quality and generous support to enable them to live at home.
On June 29, “Action to Employment” began partnering these young people with seniors in Saskatoon Health Region’s Home First program. Home First is an enhancement to home care, focused on seniors by providing elevated levels of service which allow seniors to live safely and independently in their own homes. Initially, the Home First program has concentrated on medical care for seniors as they are discharged from acute care, discharged from emergency, or experience declines in their health while at home. However, not all seniors’ needs are medical in nature which is how “Action to Employment” is helping to fill in those gaps.
“By helping youth help themselves, they learn the importance of helping others,” Don Meikle, Executive Director of EGADZ said. “A youth living in My Homes brought to our attention the importance of giving back to the community and the positive impact it can have on both the youth and the community members.”
Saskatoon Health Region’s Mental Health and Addiction Services staff will be conducting satisfaction surveys to assist with evaluating the program and are supporting those youth with mental health and addiction issues through a support group.
“Hearing the positive response from those seniors who are getting help with their yard work is a big boost to the self-esteem of these young people,” says Tracy Muggli, director Saskatoon Health Region’s Mental Health and Addiction Services. “That’s very important as they continue to develop the life skills that will help them build independence and move toward gaining full time employment.”
While Home First clients were the initial group accessing the services of these youth, people who are 50 years of age and older and require some assistance with yard care may also access the program. Having these young people providing assistance doing yard work in the summer and shoveling snow over the winter months will help seniors remain in their homes longer and reduce emergency room visits as a result of a fall or overexertion.
The partnership includes EGADZ, Saskatoon Health Region, Ministry of Social Services, Saskatoon Truck Centre, Saskatoon Community Foundation and Canadian Tires stores in Saskatoon.